Pandemic Further Worsens Gap In Elder Abuse Prevention, Law Enforcement
In many countries, there is a “lack of adequate legislation at the national level to protect the rights of older persons and the absence of a dedicated internationally agreed legal framework”, such as national and international investigative working groups.
These persistent vulnerabilities “have contributed to inadequate responses to the COVID-19 crisis and that these gaps must be addressed”, as it relates to the elderly.
A Potential Solution: Similar to tackling other financial crimes through stronger compliance defenses, creating more detailed and stringent international standards for investigations, sanctions and protections.
The UN calls on member countries to “develop universally applicable normative standards for the protection of older persons from violence, neglect and abuse, which would help provide a comprehensive response and also provide guidance for the development of a report, a responsibility and a remedy. mechanism for such violations suffered by the elderly.
Steps to close investigative gaps are vital as many criminals and fraudsters – now emboldened by fear and uncertainty of a pandemic and ploys related to desperately needed protective gear and stimulus checks – more aggressively try to rip off people with all their dwindling savings. are left.
Even before the coronavirus, the lost financial tally of senior financial fraud around the world is staggering.
Seniors in the United States get ripped off between $ 3 billion and $ 37 billion a year, according to media studies reports.
Between 2013 and 2017, those over 70 lost on average $ 41,800 to financial abuse of seniors, according to an analysis by the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The losses are even higher when the scammer is a friend or relative, the person who is supposed to be a trusted member of a person’s support system.
The extent, complexity, and scale of senior financial fraud was highlighted by the US Department of Justice in 2018, where federal investigators announced the largest crackdown on senior financial fraud in Canadian history. United States – involving over half a billion dollars.
Prosecutors have filed criminal charges against more than 250 suspected direct mail and telemarketing fraudsters, with losses from these plots estimated at more than $ 500 million.
To learn more about the Seniors-Focused GM Historical Application Sweep, click here.
And yet elder abuse is “grossly underreported; only 1 in 44 cases of financial abuse is revealed, ”according to the National Adult Protective Services Association, or NAPSA, and the media.
As the client’s age increases, the risks of financial fraud by custodians also increase
These issues are well known to ACFCS.
The association has covered the dynamics at play extensively in detailed stories, webinars, and live events, a challenge as standard AML compliance risk assessments can miss the more nuanced red flags at play in this crime, because a critical delineation is not the size of the transaction but the age of the customer.
In addition, classic risk patterns are reversed when it comes to older clients.
For example, in most cases, direct parents and caregivers are low-risk entities tied to certain accounts, where compliance analysts typically look for risky entities outside of the bank that attempt to break in – but that changes when the elderly are involved.
Ironically, in many elder abuse cases it is a close family member attempting to take advantage of a parent or elder relative who is unable to say no to certain transactions when people are trying to drain their savings, investments, or accumulate credit card debt on their behalf.
According to the Census Bureau “intermediate series” projections, the elderly population will more than double by 2050, reaching 80 million. That year, up to 1 in 5 Americans could be old.
This puts more pressure on bank compliance teams to look for signs of elder abuse, including:
- Has an elderly customer with a stable account balance suddenly started incurring insufficient funds charges (NSF) or a low account balance?
- Has an older customer account seen a sharp increase in withdrawals or checks to unknown recipients?
- Do an elderly client’s accounts show large transfers to the account from investment accounts, to be quickly withdrawn?
- Does an elderly customer with zero or infrequent ATM withdrawals now show an increased pattern of ATM withdrawals?
- Is an elderly customer with consistent spending habits now showing a sharp increase in spending?
To help compliance teams and investigators better spot transactions related to crimes against the elderly, ACFCS has extracted some tips and tricks from our archives.
While generally available only to members, we have unlocked this content for public access to help spread awareness of this critical topic and the role that all financial crime professionals can play in addressing the financial abuse of individuals. the elderly.
To read ACFCS’s coverage of the 2019 Elder Abuse Awareness Day, click on here.
To read ACFCS’s coverage of the 2018 Elder Abuse Awareness Day, click on here.