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ELDER ABUSE IS A CRIME?
Res ipsa loquitur
"Of all the illegal and illicit enterprises in the world, elder exploitation is among the safest and most profitable."
Journalism is a method of inquiry and literary style that aims to provide a service to the public by the dissemination and analysis of news and other information. Journalistic integrity is based on the principles of truth, disclosure, and editorial independence. Journalistic mediums can vary diversely, from print publishing to electronic broadcasting, and from newspaper to television channels, as well as to the web, and to digital technology.
In modern society, the news media is the chief purveyor of information and opinion about public affairs. Journalism, however, is not always confined to the news media or to news itself, as journalistic communication may find its way into broader forms of expression, including literature and cinema. In some nations, the news media is still controlled by government intervention, and is not fully an independent body.
In a democratic society, however, access to free information plays a central role in creating a system of checks and balance, and in distributing power equally amongst governments, businesses, individuals, and other social entities. Access to verifiable information gathered by independent media sources, which adhere to journalistic standards, can also be of service to ordinary citizens, by empowering them with the tools they need in order to participate in the political process.
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."
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.