arguably the most prevalent scourge against seniors today.
That’s a pretty strong statement and there are certainly
those that would argue that such a dubious honor more aptly
belongs to any one of a number of various diseases or medical
arguments aside, fraud is perpetrated at various levels on
thousands of seniors a day.
are relatively hard to come by, chiefly because few seniors report
the fraud or perhaps don’t even know that
they have been
victimized. Another reason is that different people have different
definitions of fraud. Most
someone to enter an agreement under false pretenses is fraud.
Others would add that intentionally using unclear terms in
order to confuse someone to be just as fraudulent.
Still others consider intent irrelevant.
When something is promised that isn’t delivered, this can be
relatively easy to prove, especially with a written statement of
the agreement in hand. The fraud cases that are hard to prove are
the ones where there is no written agreement and/or where there is
a lack of evidence that there was an agreement, or if there was,
what the terms are.
In order to
swindle someone, there must be a certain level of trust.
The swindler may be totally anonymous and work via email or
phone, they may come right to your door, or they may be
the businessperson just down the block.
might be honest most of the time and only carry out an occasional swindle when an easy opportunity
presents itself. No
profession is immune from the conman.
It may be the local social worker, neighbor, maid, doctor,
lawyer, or lawn service man.
Regardless of their approach or who they are, the swindler
has a great story to inspire trust in the prospect victim.
No matter who you deal with or if you've dealt with them before,
it always pays to do business with your eyes wide open.
The most tragic cases of course, are those frauds that are
committed by family. For
many reasons, these are often the most under-reported cases of
fraud as well. The
child who wants a little greater inheritance may take advantage of
his/her relationship with the parents to obtain secret loans, sell
goods cheaply, or just outright steal.
Most parents are reluctant to then use legal means to
reacquire the asset.
people hear the word “fraud”, “swindle” or “con”, they
usually think of the big ones, the one where someone’s life
savings was consumed. Though
these large swindles exist, the vast majority of swindles are
relatively small, ranging from $20 up to a couple of thousand
dollars, sometimes even smaller.
- Big frauds
Small frauds can be hard to detect.
The conman often destroys the evidence of his fraud, it may
be chalked up to a misunderstanding or mistake, or the conman may
generate a refund to anyone that catches him so that he won’t be
reported to the authorities.
Many times, people don’t even know that they’ve been
swindled. If you paid
for a $90 per tire for a set of tires, do you always check to make
sure you got exactly what you ordered?
Or could the garage put on $60 tires without you knowing?
This assumed trust and/or lack of expertise is often the
way many seniors are duped. Even
if the person does know that they’ve been swindled, they often
feel embarrassed to admit it to anyone else.
It is far
riskier for a conman to perpetrate a large fraud than a small one.
Large ones often draw the attention of family members and
they are so devastating that the fraud takes on a life of it’s
own. Other times,
anger over-powers even the strongest feelings of humiliation and
the victim reports the crime.
Obviously the biggest motivator in committing a fraud against
anyone is greed; the desire to acquire more than one is entitled
to, and to do so at someone else’s expense.
Conversely, various degrees of the same motivator allow the
victim to be victimized. Whether
it is outright greed or just trying to get a great deal, the
perpetrator relies on the willingness of the victim to act quickly
and/or secretly to get the most value.
anything wrong with trying to get a great deal or save money.
The problem comes when this goal is the primary goal.
Here’s the big secret in avoiding fraud, there is no
hurry and if it is such a great deal, then others will agree.