Financial Elder Abuse: The Big Picture, Part II

Giving people the benefit of the doubt is something that we as humans attempt to do on a daily basis. While there is nothing wrong with this principle, we do need to use caution because there are many individuals that will abuse it. Financial Elder Abuse is one example of when too much trust of the wrong people goes awry. 

In 2010, $2.9 billion was lost in financial elder abuse cases. This type of abuse is a topic that is often overlooked. Mental and physical abuse may be something that people notice and understand, but the financial aspect can easily be overlooked or explained away.

In Part I of our Financial Elder Abuse series, we defined the concept, profiled the victims, and explained why the elderly are targeted in financial elder abuse cases. Part II of this series will cover who the perpetrators of this crime are and why they commit these crimes.

Who are the Perpetrators?

According to a recent study the perpetrators of financial elder abuse consists of a wide variety of people. This wide range of people can be split up into three main groups including: strangers 51%; family, friends, and neighbors 34%; and business people 12%. [1]  Out of the recent cases, 60% of the perpetrators were males 30-59 year old.[2] The other 40% were females.

How and Why The Crimes Were Committe

The reasons people commit such heinous crimes are about as varied as the people that commit them. Each group (strangers, family members, business people) all have different methods and motives for scamming the elderly.[3]


  • Profess to “love” and “care” for the older individual
  • Seek employment as a personal care attendant, financial assistant, counselors to gain access
  • Contact isolated persons (search for recently widowed individuals and drive through neighborhoods)
  • Move from community to community to avoid getting caught


  • May have a substance abuse, gambling or other financial issue
  • Fear that elder will deprive them of their inheritance
  • Have a negative relationship with the older person and sense a feeling of entitlement
  • Try to prevent other family members from inheriting older person’s assets

Business People

  • Overcharge for services or products
  • Use deceptive business practices
  • Use their positions to gain compliance

The common thread with the three groups is that criminals see an opportunity to deprive a vulnerable person of money.  Most of us cannot understand this type of thinking and are appalled by the behavior. For the past 8 years, I have been bringing light to schemes and scams against the elderly and educating people on the detection, prevention, and remedy for these crimes.  Help spread the word and do your part to educate the people in your life.

If you’re in the Sacramento area, join me at the CalCPA luncheon on Thursday, April 18 as we further discuss the role of Financial Elder Abuse and the position that Forensic Accounting has in this topic. For more information about this event, please visit our event page on Facebook or email me at

[1]. Archer & Greiner. “Financial Elder Abuse Costs Nearly $3 Billion a Year.” JD Supra. N.p., Sept. 2011. Web. 05 Apr. 2013.

[2]. Archer & Greiner. “Financial Elder Abuse Costs Nearly $3 Billion a Year.” JD Supra. N.p., Sept. 2011. Web. 05 Apr. 2013.

[3]. “Financial Abuse.” NCPA. 2008.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *