02 September 2013

Spotting Elder Financial Abuse [Wells Fargo]

Spotting Elder Financial Abuse


A Wells Fargo client in California thought he had hit the jackpot. The 78-year-old husband and father was contacted by people claiming to be from the Costa Rican lottery. They told him he had just won $5 million. But before he could collect the proceeds, there were a few formalities. They first needed some personal information to confirm his identity. And they also needed money to pay off various taxes and fees associated with the winnings.

Although elderly, the client was "all there," according to Ronald Long, director of regulatory affairs at Wells Fargo Advisors and one of the leaders of the firm's elder financial abuse prevention efforts. But there were circumstances in the client's life that made him susceptible to the scam. His 76-year-old wife was in poor health and bedridden. The costs of her treatment were considerable and a continual source of stress. "The thought that he had the chance to get more money to make their lives easier was attractive to him," Long says. "And these people fed on it."
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Wells Fargo Advisors began tracking the elder financial abuse cases it encountered in August 2010, Long says. From an average of about 30 cases a month, they now count well over 100. "All of us need to be engaged, to be aware, keeping an eye out and making reports to the appropriate authorities if we see conduct that seems off-kilter," he says.

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