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SENIOR BEAT: Senate Aging Panel releases its 2018 fraud e-book | Opinion


In early March, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging once more put the highlight on frequent fraud schemes directed at America’s seniors at a panel listening to, “Stopping Senior Scams.” At the Senate panel listening to, held in Dirksen Senate Office Building 562, the Committee formally launched its 2018 Fraud Book detailing the Top 10 scams reported to its Fraud Hotline final 12 months. In 2017, the Committee’s Fraud Hotline obtained greater than 1,400 complaints of frauds focusing on seniors across the nation, clearly revealing the extent of this epidemic. 

Last 12 months, essentially the most prevalent rip-off reported to the Committee’s Hotline, detailed within the Senate Aging Committee’s 56-page 2018 Fraud Book, was the IRS Impersonation Scam during which con artists name, pretending to be IRS representatives, to gather fee of taxes and threaten arrest if fee just isn’t instantly made by cellphone (During tax submitting season, seniors and others ought to be on excessive alert for rip-off artists claiming to be the IRS).

The March 7 listening to was the third listening to this Congress – and the twelfth up to now three years – that the Senate Aging Committee has held analyzing scams affecting older Americans. These hearings examined notoriously widespread scams together with the IRS imposter scams, lottery and sweepstakes scams, laptop tech help scams, grandparent scams, elder monetary exploitation, and identification theft.

“This Committee’s dedication to fighting fraud against older Americans is raising awareness and it is making a real difference,” stated Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME), of the Senate Aging Committee, in her opening remarks. “Just two weeks ago, the Department of Justice announced it has charged more than 250 people with stealing more than half billion dollars from more than a million Americans. This is the largest ever law enforcement action to protect our nation’s seniors from fraud,” famous Collins.

Seniors lose billions in exploitation schemes, scams

Collins known as the “stakes extremely high” in combating in opposition to the skyrocketing incidence of senior fraud, noting that in keeping with the Government Accountability Office, older American’s lose a staggering $2.9 billion a 12 months to an ever-growing array of economic exploitation schemes and scams.

Ranking Member, Bob Casey (D-PA), known as for extra aggressive motion to be taken “to ensure that not one more senior loses another penny to a con artist.” The Pennsylvania Senator known as for working extra intently with companies to create “another line of defense to help prevent assets from ever leaving the hands of unsuspecting victims.” 

Witnesses Stephen and Rita Shiman from Saco, Maine, got here to share and educate others as to how they fell sufferer to a grandparent rip-off. During his testimony, Shiman acknowledged the particular bond between grandparents and their grandchildren. “The scammers knew this well and took full advantage of it with my wife and myself.   They knew that when a grandchild is in trouble, grandparents go all out to help,” he stated.

With over 20 years working as a lead volunteer with Pennsylvania, chairing the nonprofits Consumer Issue Task Force, Witness Mary Bach defined how her 15-member activity power workforce from throughout the commonwealth hold residents of all ages educated about present scams sweeping the state. She said, “[w]e know that education is power, and when someone hears the specifics of a scam they are much less likely to be victimized. If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam!”

Witness Doug Shadel, State Director of AARP Washington State. testified concerning the present state of fraud focusing on seniors and outlined that impostor scams are nonetheless essentially the most prevalent.” In the brand new age of know-how, it’s simpler than ever for scammers to be somebody they aren’t,” he stated, noting that “combining this ability with a tactic to incite fear or excitement upon their victim, paints a very convincing picture, one that has enabled scammers to easily take many seniors of their hard-earned savings.” 

Finally, witness Adrienne Omansky of Los Angeles, Calif., described how she fashioned the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program in 2009 after studying from college students in her business performing class about fraud that they had skilled.  Over the previous few years, this volunteer group has grown considerably and now performs in about 30 venues annually, starting from small veteran’s halls to a big conference middle.  As a part of her testimony, Omansky performed just a few clips of the Public Service Announcements her group has recorded and shared a number of of the teachings the members of her performing program have realized via their very own performances, together with that seniors are sometimes extra comfy studying about scams from their friends.

AARP Fights Against Senior Fraud

AARP acknowledged early on that older Americans are extraordinarily weak to fraud and identification theft,” says AARP Rhode Island State Director Kathleen Connell. “It’s a multi-billion-dollar problem and getting worse. That’s why our organization has made a significant investment in public outreach as well as a free alert system available to our members as well as the general public.

“One aspect of prevention that has been our focus is explaining to people how con artists operate. We hired Frank Abagnale, the real-life former con man depicted in the movie Catch Me If You Can, as a national spokesman. His job is to help people spot a con. He goes way beyond “if it’s too good to be true.” Abagnale explains the psychological triggers that con artists make use of to snag even the seemingly brightest and most cautious victims. This is specified by our free publication The Con Artists Playbook. It is a hand out at occasions and shows we’ve been conducting throughout the state the previous three years.

“The AARP Fraud Watch Network is a free service,” Connell continued. “Sign up and you will receive email alerts on the latest scams. One of our Fraud Watch presenters is fond of saying that when you hear about a scam on the TV news it is natural to say, ’I’d never fall for that. ’Maybe, he tells audiences, it’s only because you were just warned. That’s the thing. It’s the new scam that you haven’t heard about that is especially dangerous. In addition to the alerts, you can report scans so the word spreads as new cons make the rounds. There’s also a national fraud hotline (877-908-3360) with specialists who take on any questions. And an online map allows you identify scams reported in your area. We urge everyone to check out the Web site (fraudwatchnetwork.org) to learn more.”

Herb Weiss, LRI’12, is a Pawtucket author masking getting older, healthcare and medical points. To buy Taking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly, a set of 79 of his weekly commentaries, go to herbweiss.com.



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