Elders Scammed by Loved Ones
Police said the people who take advantage of seniors most often are the people they know and love
ANCHORAGE - Scammers often target elders, but police said the people who take advantage of seniors most often are the people they know and love. That’s especially true when it comes to financial fraud, according to Scott Sterling with the State Office of Public Advocacy.
Sterling said the typical case involves a relative with power of attorney who steals from the person who trusts them most.
“It's the opportunity presented by the trust relationship,” said Sterling. “Some people just don’t seem to be able to resist abusing that trust and that's where it occurs.”
According to Sterling, it’s a growing problem in Alaska that often goes unreported. Estimates run as high as one in 20 cases that are actually reported. But Sterling said a new law can help protect vulnerable seniors.
It’s a type of restraining order modeled after a domestic violence restraining order.
“This would enable a person to go in on their behalf whether it's a state agency or a friend or a tribal social worker, whatever the case may be, you can go in and now ask for emergency help.”
If the judge grants the order the person in question can be barred from the elder’s finances for as long as six months. That’s enough time to get the situation sorted out or, if the senior wishes, and press criminal charges.
Sterling said the hope is that by making the process easier and faster, more people will be willing to step in and help if they suspect a senior is in trouble. And seniors may be able to hold on to their money before it’s all gone.