Adverse Media and Elder Fraud
Welcome to RDC Insider Insights. This monthly series covers a multitude of modern-day financial crimes. We’ve analyzed our global datasets to understand how certain types of crimes and risks are changing over time, both globally and in regional splits, to uncover trends and provide insights. Elder mistreatment is a pervasive and growing problem, urgently requiring the attention of health care systems, social welfare agencies, policymakers, and the general public.
Why is Elder Fraud Relevant?
Elder fraud is the misappropriation of financial resources resulting in harm to an elderly victim where the perpetrator is in a position of trust, such as a family member or caregiver.
the U.S. alone it is estimated that 5 million elderly are financially exploited each year equating to $36.5 billion in lost funds. Our extensive adverse media coverage shows a 153% increase of elder fraud reports in the last 5 years. Understanding this risk can help banks allocate resources to address elder fraud – from both organizational and customer protection perspective.
Implementing security policies for elderly clients assists with:
Any time a financial institution interacts with a customer over a certain age, it could be exposed to liability and regulatory actions if it has not implemented strong policies and procedures as well as trained employees to identify signs of elder financial fraud by third parties and take a proactive stance.
Privacy laws continue to evolve worldwide and are shining a spotlight on the protection of personal data with specific emphasis on “vulnerable groups,” including the elderly.
With a heightened focus on social responsibility in addition to regulatory scrutiny, organizations are making strides to ensure compliance which also helps mitigate reputational risk.
Each of these risks surrounding the rise of elder fraud scams lead to revenue loss or fines if not properly managed, not to mention the loss of customer savings. According to the National Council on Aging, in the U.S. alone it is estimated that 5 million elderly are financially exploited each year equating to $36.5 billion in lost funds.
Elder Fraud Globally
Internationally, there are a few geopolitical variables in analyzing the growing rates of elder fraud, including the proportion of the population over 65 years of age, the widespread availability of advanced technology and internet access, and the adverse media reporting around protection of vulnerable adult populations from financial scams. As many elder fraud schemes involve cyber attacks that take advantage of the lack of familiarity with the latest advancements in software and AI, elder fraud is more prevalent in countries with higher rates of wireless tech development.
The rapidly growing population of aging Americans makes the exploitation of the elderly a growing crisis. For the first time in US history, adults 65 and up are projected to outnumber children by 2035. As elder populations rise, so does Elder Fraud. By 2050, the elderly population in the US is projected to reach over 90 million.
Adverse media also allows us to see the links between elder fraud and other crimes, such as organized crime. A crew of fraudsters in the US were charged with racketeering, neglect of an elderly person, and exploitation for their role in a Medicaid fraud scheme that authorities described as “an organized web of abuse” of elderly and disabled adults.
Codes most associated with Elder Fraud prosecutions
The relationship between elder fraud and the aging population is less clear in the case of India. There, younger people outnumber elders by a large factor. Young people outnumbering elderly people is one reason that we see 60% of elder fraud perpetrators as family members. As younger generations in India begin to take over household roles, as well as professional occupations, the elderly end up with an economic dependence on younger family members. A crime captured as neglect can be a form of financial abuse. Close relatives and friends often move in with an elderly individual in order to “care” for them, when in reality they neglect the individual and attempt to take over their property and assets.
Japan is not listed in the top ten countries, like India and the United States. However, Japan does have a proportionately higher rate of elders and, more notably, they had the highest jump in elder fraud in the last year at a 99% increase since 2018. The disproportionate ratio of elders to younger populations yields caregiver/nursing home abuse as the top elder fraud crime in Japan. While caregiver/nursing home abuse does not seem like a financial crime at first, our adverse media showed that 44% of this abuse was directly related to Fraud–making it a financial crime.
What should FIs look out for?
Financial institutions have been recognized at state and federal levels as playing a key role in detecting and preventing elderly financial exploitation. In addition to comprehensive screening at onboarding, as well as ongoing portfolio adverse media screening, FIs should be on the lookout for:
- Frequent or unexplained withdrawals that are inconsistent for the elder
- Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts the customer cannot explain
- A new “best friend” accompanying an older person to the bank
- Sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills
- Closing CDs or accounts without regard to penalties
- Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money
- Suspicious signatures on checks, or outright forgery
- Confusion, fear or lack of awareness on the part of an older customer
- Checks written as “loans” or “gifts”
- Bank statements that no longer go to the customer’s home
- New powers of attorney the older person does not understand
- A caretaker, relative or friend who suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of an older person without proper documentation
- Altered wills and trusts
If you’d like to know more about the data and trends in elder fraud, watch our webinar: