Senior scams include romance, grandparents


One out of every five seniors is mistreated in some form and there are 5 million victims each year,
according to an officer for Farmers and Merchants Bank.
Jacque Wells, bank secrecy officer, spoke to the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club about elder financial abuse
earlier this month.
She said that her title of secrecy officer encompasses a wide range of duties including overseeing
schemes of money laundering and other fraudulent transactions.
“Always safeguard Medicare cards and other identifiers. Always be on the alert. Ask questions for your
own safety, and never be afraid to report suspicious activity,” she said.
Wells said the vast majority of the financial fraud cases are perpetrated by family members of the
victim. She said that 90 percent of those cases involve family members or trusted friends who wrongfully
use the assets of the elder victim.
Many of these criminal acts are not reported for a variety of reasons including reluctance on the part of
the victim to report the crime, she said.
All financial institutions are classified as mandatory reporters so they are trained to look for problems
to assist their depositors with watching for problems, Wells said.
Romance scams often snag seniors, she said. In these scams some people are drawn into an online
relationship with someone who poses as a love interest, but eventually is just seeking money not
Another popular scheme against elders is the grandparent scheme. The criminal will call an elderly person
and claim to be a grandchild in trouble seeking funds to get out of jail or other possible pitfalls.
Many of the scams come through phone calls, while others arrive through the mail or e-mail. Wells also
reminded those in attendance that lottery scams are also very frequent.
“You cannot win a lottery you haven’t entered. You should never pay a fee to win a prize in a lottery you
have not entered,” Wells said.
One of the lighter moments in her presentation came when Wells set the parameters for the term elderly as
those age 60 and over.
Chuckles and other reactions filled the room, as likely many of those in attendance fell above the age
Wells talked about her passion for serving the elderly.
She said that her family had hired a caretaker for her father a few years back. The female earned Wells’
father’s trust and, without the family’s knowledge, had taken him to the courthouse and married him so
she would be entitled to spousal rights and access.
The damage to the family finances was minimal as the family had the foresight to protect many of the
assets prior to her father falling victim to this woman, Wells said.

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