On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Schneiderman launches elder fraud prevention effort

New Section Of AG Website – “Smart Seniors: Resources For Older Adults” – Gives New York Seniors The Tools They Need To Protect Themselves

A.G. Offers Smart Seniors Presentations, Tips For Seniors To Avoid Becoming Victims

To mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the launch of a dedicated portion of his office’s website, titled “Smart Seniors: Resources for Older Adults,” that will provide easily accessible safety tips, alerts and information that seniors can use to stay safe in their daily lives.

“Today and every day, my office is committed to combatting and raising awareness of elder abuse,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.  “We will continue to hold accountable those who take advantage of our seniors – and provide senior citizens easy access to information so they can protect themselves from abuse and scams.”

Elder financial fraud is a serious and growing problem. Just yesterday, Attorney General Schneiderman announced a lawsuit against a Queens’ investment advisor for allegedly defrauding 58 elderly New Yorkers out of millions of dollars of their retirement savings. A recent study estimated the annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse in New York State to be at least $1.5 billion dollars per year. The Grandparent Scam, IRS Scam, and similar phone and internet-based scams are pernicious, and the resulting harm to consumers can be devastating. Often, victims are instructed to purchase gift cards or pre-paid debit cards and provide the serial number on the back of the card to the scammer – which allows the funds to be transferred without a trace. In many cases, consumers end up losing a significant portion of their savings.

The new ‘Smart Seniors: Resources for Older Adults’ webpage will include tips on a variety of consumer, health, and civil rights issues and will enable older adults to stay up-to-date on the latest scams that are targeting them. Having these resources aggregated in one place will enable seniors to more easily obtain the information they need to protect themselves. Seniors will also be able to report scams to the Attorney General’s office, and victims will be able to file complaints online.  The resources are available in a friendly format that is easier for those who are visually impaired.

In addition to launching the new web resources the Attorney General’s office is proud to participate in World Elder Abuse Awareness Day programs at the JSPOA Theodora G. Jackson Adult Center in Jamaica, the Alpha Phi Alpha Senior Center in Cambria Heights, the Hudson Area Library in Hudson, and the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Summit in Washington, D.C.

Smart Seniors Presentations

To spread the word about senior safety, presenters from the Attorney General’s office regularly visit senior centers, assisted living facilities, libraries, houses of worship, senior clubs, and other locations to teach seniors about the most common scams, the techniques perpetrators commonly use, and who to alert if they identify a scam or are victimized. Seniors are also informed of how to protect their physical safety at home and in other common day-to-day situations. Senior groups are encouraged to book a “Smart Seniors” presentation by calling the Attorney General’s office at 1-800-771-7755. Upcoming events include:

  • June 23 – Leisure Knoll in Ridge, with County Legislator Sarah Anker
  • June 29 – Bridgehampton Senior Center in Bridgehampton with County Legislator Bridget Fleming
  • Aug. 22 – Lewisboro Library in Lewisboro
  • Sept. 18 – Woodland Pond in New Paltz
  • Sept. 25 – Hillburn Senior Citizens Organization in Hillburn
  • Oct. 17 – “Senior Law Day” at the Westchester County Center in White Plains

Tips To Avoid Falling Victim

Scam artists are always devising new schemes to defraud consumers, so it is important for consumers to learn how to protect themselves by taking some basic precautions.

If the caller is a stranger, you should be on alert:

  • Never give out personal information to a stranger on the phone, even if they claim to be a representative from your bank, credit card company, or any other company with which you’ve done business.
  • Never wire money to a stranger through Western Union, MoneyGram, or any other wire service.
  • Never purchase gift cards for the purpose of providing the gift card numbers to a stranger or someone who claims to be a loved one; gift cards are not a legitimate form of payment.

If you have an elderly parent or loved one:

  • Pass along these tips to them and don’t assume that they can’t be victimized.
  • Consider seeking their permission to be involved in their finances, including asking credit card companies to alert you when they make an unusually large purchase.
  • Assure them that they should check with you before making a payment or purchase, especially if a caller has instructed them not to.
  • Encourage them to immediately contact you and/or the police if they get a call like those described here.

Attorney General Schneiderman reminds New Yorkers that in addition to being vigilant consumers, they should also report instances of fraud to his office. Consumers are encouraged to file complaints by visiting the Office’s website or calling 1-800-771-7755.

For specific health-related instances of fraud, consumers are encouraged to contact the Office’s Health Care Bureau Helpline at 1-800-428-9071 or file a complaint online.

Protection Against Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect

In addition to protecting seniors from financial abuse, the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) investigates and prosecutes people who have directly harmed elderly nursing home residents, as well as nursing home managers and owners who tolerated or covered up abuse and neglect. No one is above the law when it comes to the special duty that New York requires of people entrusted with the care of our seniors.

In recent years, the Attorney General’s MFCU has brought charges involving homicides through neglect, injuries from violence and from negligent care, and crimes that include stealing narcotics and falsely reporting that a patient needed the opioids for pain, as well as posting “selfies” or videos of disabled or distressed patients online for amusement. MFCU has ensured that fake nurses are not treating patients, greedy managers are out of business, and sex abusers are behind bars.

Since 2011, 262 persons have been brought to justice by the Attorney General’s MFCU for committing crimes against nursing home residents. Seventeen of those defendants stole valuables or money from the people who were in their care.

Please report suspected neglect or abuse of nursing home residents to the NYS Department of Health Nursing Home Complaint hotline at 888-201-4563 and to the Attorney General’s Office at800-771-7755. Suspicious activity can also be reported online at www.ag.ny.gov.

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