With all of the scams targeting the elderly today, the smartest investment that a one might make is in a visit to an attorney who works on elder law and estate planning issues. An experienced legal professional can provide sound advice to help you invest your savings safely for the future and protect your assets from predators. This protection is invaluable at a time when you have already saved a lifetime’s worth of income for you and your family.
Recent Financial Scams
Far too many San Diego residents continue to be taken advantage of by scammers and con artists.
One recent story from News 10 highlights a common situation. The scam began with a sixty-year old man who claimed to be a life insurance agent approaching the elderly to sell policies. Howard Thomas Jackson, a man whose license to sell these policies had long expired, was then able to convince these people to “refinance their homes and invest the proceeds in life insurance policies and a company he was associated with.” He then spent the money to pay the first year of insurance premiums but then spent the rest on his personal and business expenses.
By the time one of his victims became privy to his scheme and reported this crime to the authorities,
Jackson had already cheated $300,000 from California’s elderly community. One victim’s complaint included a claim that Jackson embezzled $80,000 in premiums from the victim to pay for the insurance policy and make investments. Jackson was thereafter charged with grand theft and theft of funds by a fiduciary. He pled guilty to these charges and has been placed in jail for a year. After serving his sentence, he will have to face five years of probation and repay his victims a total sum of $339,099.
Jackson is not the only person who is targeting the elderly. Other common financial scams include telemarketing, unauthorized access to bank funds, overcharging, selling bogus items, faking an injury,
offering false prizes and offering to repair something around the home that doesn’t need to be fixed.
According to the Department of Justice, deceitful telemarketers scam people out of an estimated $40 billion per year and American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) believes that 80% of these people are over the age of 50. With so many types of scams on the television, phone, in person and on the internet, elder persons are advised to protect their assets for a better future for themselves as well as for their families.
Protection & Prevention
If you feel you have already been scammed, then the first thing to do is to change credit cards or account numbers that you provided during the transaction. Report the potential fraud to local law enforcement. If the scammer is found, you can discuss your options with an attorney on how to recover lost funds.
As a preventative measure, it is critical not to sign any papers that you have not fully read or understand,
as many victims have given access to their funds through a power of attorney without realizing it. If you want to give a power of attorney to someone, then having a lawyer assist in the drafting and executing of such a document would be in your best interest. An experienced attorney can also help execute legal documents that can prevent scammers from accessing your money.
Do not allow yourself to be like the victims described above, contact an estate planning lawyer today to protect your assets and your rights.