Elder Fraud Increasing

Elder fraud, elder abuse, elder financial exploitation – whatever you call it, it’s not only a horrible crime but it’s on the rise.  FinCEN recently released a report, “Financial Trend Analysis: Elders Face Increased Financial Threat from Domestic and Foreign Actors”, which, as the name suggests, indicates that elders face financial threats both at home and from abroad. 

This isn’t necessarily new information.  The CFPB also released a report in February 2019 outlining issues and trends related to Elder Financial Exploitation (EFE) Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs).  This should be a little bit of a warning shot to your BSA Compliance Team.  Specifically, that this is a growing area of risk, you need to train your employees and do your part to protect your customers.  FinCEN Director Blanco stated:

“These SARs are also important to filer banks and MSBs because they show trends and patterns in criminal activity.  Every financial institution wants to protect its customers, and SAR reporting helps them do that.  Awareness of these reporting trends and potential exploitation methods can also help consumers protect themselves.”

A few of the major scam areas include:

  • Romance: scammers establish a “relationship” with a victim and then request money for a variety of reasons.
  • Emergency: scammers claim to be a loved one of the victim who has an emergency situation and needs money right away.
  • Lottery: scammers tell victims they won a lottery or other prize and they need to first send a tax or fee before they can claim their winnings.

While scams are a large portion of the EFE SARs filed, theft by a family member or an unrelated caretaker are still the most financially devastating.  Amounts reported for theft are almost double the amounts reported for scams.

For more on the February 2019 FinCEN report, be sure to check out the Management Minute in the April 2019 edition of Banking on BCC.

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