Yesterday we discussed proposed legislation in the U.S. Senate which seeks to increase protection against elder abuse and neglect. Our Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys discussed how prevention of senior financial exploitation was at the center of those efforts. The problem is a hidden one, with millions of seniors affected-most of which goes unreported. Even fewer cases of exploitation actually result in catching and punishing the wrongdoer. The more resources and awareness that are thrown toward this efforts, the more we can work to change those dismal numbers.
In a bit of good news on the topic, the Center Square Journal reported on a group of bank employees that thwarted attempted Illinois elder financial abuse. According to the story, two employees of MB Financial Bank worked together to stop the scam. The two employees work at the bank’s branch on the 4800 block of North Western Ave. Thanks to their work, a senior customer was saved thousands of dollars.
Apparently there was a customer who engaged in some suspicious account activity that seemed out of character. The senior then made a request for a $5,000 cashier’s check. This action in particular put the bank employees on alert that something suspicious was going on. The MB officials got in touch with local authorities to share their concerns, because they did not want to at least make sure that the senior’s actions were not signs of exploitation. The officials investigated the matter further and got to the root of the problem. It seems that the senior had gotten a notice in the mail that demanded $5,000 in order to collect millions of dollars being held at U.S. customs offices. The notice was very aggressive, threatening imprisonment if the demands were not met. Thinking that the communication was legitimate, the senior was close to sending the money to meet the demands. Fortunately, authorities were able to notify the woman of the scam before it occurred, saving her the large financial loss.
In recognition of their good work preventing the Illinois elder abuse, the bank employees were recently honored with an Honorary Civic Commendation from the CAPS Implementation Office. MB Financial explains that they regularly have staff members participate in programs designed to teach about the warning signs of elder abuse. As this case shows, that work pays off. It is through the good work of employees like this that more seniors can be spared being taken advantage of by unscrupulous scam artists.
To those of us accustomed to the “Spam” filtering in through mailboxes and email boxes, it may seem strange that so many could be taken in by these scams. However, many seniors are not as familiar with electronic communications and other “phishing” attempts to steal sensitive information and funds. When a senior -who often is just learning how to use email-gets a message from a friends email account asking for funds to get out of a foreign country, for example, the senior may never suspect that the email account was hacked. Those of us who are more versed in the information age might not fall for these schemes as much, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still work on those unfamiliar with complex scams.
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