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According to, elderly adults in the United States lose an estimated $36 billion to financial fraud, scams and exploitation each year. Though the numbers vary from source to source, experts suspect that an estimated 37% of American seniors have been the victim of financial elder abuse at some point in their lives. To put this into perspective, if you have three living grandparents and two older parents in California, there is a good chance one of them has been the victim of financial exploitation. What is even more alarming is that the victimized individual may not even realize he or she is the subject of abuse.

Financial exploitation of the elderly, as defined by the Older Americans Act of 2006, refers to the fraudulent or otherwise unauthorized, illegal or improper use of an elderly individual’s resources or funds for one’s own personal gain, profit or benefit. At the same time, the improper behavior deprives the elderly individual of rightful use of or access to resources, benefits, assets or belongings. Though financial exploitation in and of itself is illegal, many of the tactics culprits use are technically lawful, though deceptive in nature.

As if that is not frightening enough, perpetrators of financial elder abuse are rarely strangers. More often than not, the person who commits the abuse is close to the victim. One survey found that two-thirds of all financial crimes committed against the elderly were carried out by trusted individuals. Trusted individuals may include but not be limited to family members, friends, acquaintances, caretakers, attorneys, health care providers and financial advisors.

The content of this article is for your informational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.