Senior financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century.

In order for fraud to take place we need to learn about the fraud triangle.









Rationalization (or attitude) and Pressure (or incentive) can not be changed.  People are going to commit a crime if they want to.  Opportunity is the only thing you can control.  More on this to follow.

In Oregon, from 2009-2012 fraud allegations rose from 2,153 to 2,811.  Substantiations rose from 612 to 828.  For various reasons, fraud is not always reported.  A lot has to do with fear of retaliation.  Or family and friends are involved and people do not want to report them.  Oregon's highest fraud counties: Multnomah, Columbia, Coos, Curry and Jackson. 


About $3 billion is annually stolen from 9.5% of the elderly population, or 5.9 million people (2010)

Typically, the thieves are not strangers.

For every 1 case reported, 4 or 5 are not.

Neglect is the #1 crime,  emotional/physical abuse #2, and fraud is #3.

Financial costs:

20% of victims end up having financial or credit issues.

Health care choices are limited due to the lack of income.

Due to age, re-cap of monetary losses are limited.

Emotional costs:

Most victims relate fraud to a violent crime.

Increased depression occurs

General mistrust with everyone

Possible paranoia

A lack of independence occurs

Physical costs:

Deteriorating health

Unnecessary institutionalization increases

Medical needs may become limited


Perpetrators can be family members taking advantage of the situation or think it's their entitlement due to taking care of an elder or inheritance rights.  It can also be drug, alcohol or gambling related, survival (kids living with parents because they have no other means) or a social behavior problem.  Often times, it is the sons more than the daughters, but statistics are changing.  More men between the ages of 40-59 and women between 30-59 commit these crimes.

Other, more common, perpetrators (but not all):  non-agency caregivers, life and health insurance misrepresentation, predatory lenders, internet scams, security/bond scams, unscrupulous contractors, lottery scams, professional con artists, travelers (people who travel from one city to another, perform a couple scams and move on to the next place).  Just remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.  Buyer beware.  Ask for references, license information, insurance documentation and other credentials to prove their work.  If they can't, don't deal with them.  Even people and businesses who have never committed a crime may find themselves tempted to do so.

Here are some red flags to watch for:

Isolation - often times if someone is committing fraud they will try and keep the victim away from family, friends and their usual routine.  This way they have total control over them.

Bank Accounts Change- if their is a change in the current account to who is handling it or new accounts and money transfers, question it.  It's a good idea to get duplicate statements sent to you as well if you are in charge of a loved one.  This way you can follow transactions and balances.  Also, consider using a credit protection company to monitor accounts.  Keep checks, credit and bank cards locked up when not in use.  If you have power of attorney, don't mingle funds and keep the rest of the family in the loop so their is no mistrust.

Delinquent bills - this could be due to other financial issues, but again, question and investigate it.

Caregivers handling finances - it's not a good idea to let strangers handle your money.  If need be, deal with small purchases and small amounts of cash.  ALWAYS get the receipts.  It's best to use a trusted family member or an agency who pays for such purchases and charges you.  Have a trusted person double check your purchases.

Anxiety about personal finances - again, this could be unrelated to fraud, but verify why.  Maybe the criminal is threatening behavior if payments are not made?  Or their are second thoughts on why a person is giving up money.

New BFF - a new best friend may be a new besty or it may be someone  taking advantage of an elder.  It could be a harmless, having fun and spending money friendship.  But double check.  Find out the persons name and other pertinent information and perform a background check.  Just searching for a name online can come up results for free.

Missing property or belongings - we all misplace things and get forgetful, but don't blame that on advanced age.  Be extra cautious when its a person with a mind disability.  Caregivers, delivery people, grandchildren...  all are suspect.  Take inventory, pictures or set up "Granny" cams for surveillance.


If you ever suspect fraud, you need to report it to the authorities.  Contact the police and the Department of Human Services in your area.  For the office near you call DHS at 1-800-232-3020.  Also, get an attorney.  Some speculate in elder law.

For more reporting information you can visit the DHS website here.



Tom Townsend, Broker, SRES

Denise Townsend Group

Keller Williams Sunset Corridor

1915 NW Amberglen Pkwy #250

Beaverton OR 97006