The FBI estimates that seniors lose more than $3 billion each year to fraud. So what happens when a beloved grandchild calls, begging for money because a bad thing happened to them. Well, you know the answer. That's why this has to be a family conversation, right now.
This is the smart planning 1 0 1 podcast. From Honolulu, Hawaii, Aloha everyone. I'm Nicole Wipp, and I'm your host.
The other day, one of my staff members, Taylor told me a story about a family member that had been targeted by what is commonly known as the grandparents scam. This got me thinking. And that's why I wanted to do this episode. Because it's a story I've heard many, many times in my law practice.
Basically the scam goes something like this. The scammer will place a call to an older person and say something along the lines of hi grandma, do you know who this is?
When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses, the name of the grandchild, the scammer, most sounds like the scammer has established a fake identity without having done any background research are really having to do any heavy lifting at all.
Once in, the fake grandchild will ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem. And usually it's something like, oh, they have overdue rent they have had a car repair, maybe they say, oh, I, I got in trouble and I'm in jail and I need bond. I'm in. I'm in deep trouble. I need help right this minute. And usually there's a sense of urgency that this problem has to be solved right now. This very second.
And then they will beg the grandparents not to tell anyone, how upset everyone will be with me. You know that everybody's going to say I'm a disappointment. I'm relying on you, grandma. I'm relying on you, grandpa. I need your help.
Then because the scammers almost always asked to be paid via gift cards or a money transfer. Which are things that really don't require identification to collect. The senior may have no way of seeing that money ever again. And this we have seen time and time again, in my law firm.
[Now,] There is no question that seniors are some of the most targeted by fraudsters. And on top of it, financial scams often go unreported because, what I've seen is that people are embarrassed. Family members are embarrassed, the senior is embarrassed. And almost always the crime, like I said, a minute ago can be very difficult to prosecute because there's really no trail of evidence to a person that you can find.
And so in essence, this does make all different types of senior fraud abuse, a low risk crime, but this particular crime is especially devastating to seniors. Because they are literally financially devastated often by this. And because it's a situation they're tugging on their heartstrings, they're coming and the person feels like they should have known that it wasn't their grandchild. They should have asked more questions. They should have done this. They should've done that.
They are just so embarrassed and they don't want to do anything about it. And this is true if it was a stranger, but it could also be a family member. And all of these things lead them in a very vulnerable position with little or in most cases, actually no time to recoup their losses. It's not like seniors can go and make investments that they're going to get a return on. And of course, of yours or go out and work and make up their money. They don't really have the ability to do that, which makes it that much worse.
Now, before you start thinking , that these types of things always happen by strangers think again. Over 90% of all reported elder abuse is committed by an older person's own family members. And honestly it's most often their adult children. I see this all the time.
One or two responsible family members. And then there's like the black sheep brother or sister that is always sucking money out of mom and dad. That is what we see all the time. But then it can also be grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, and then just other family members. And so that's why , These things often go unreported because these are family members and very often.
Especially if it's the adult child of the aging parent, the aging parent does not want their child to go to jail over it. And so they don't do anything about it and they won't let their other children do anything about it either. That's why adult children of aging parents, those of you that are responsible for, and actually care about your parent.
Need to start having this conversation and talking about these things right now. Get some rules in place about how money gets given to family members, get some agreement in place, try to set some parameters. Around that type of money and definitely make sure that no money ever gets sent to somebody.
In this emergency situation without another family member being involved. Be sure that your parents cannot get targeted by strangers or even those family members that are unfortunately inclined to do that.
Bottom line seniors are particularly vulnerable to scams. And if you're an adult child of an aging parent, You know that sometimes these conversations can be very difficult for a number of reasons. Maybe your parent isn't appreciative of your efforts to try to steer them in the right direction. Maybe they don't feel that they can say no to family members that ask them for money.
And they don't want you to tell them that they should be because they're already embarrassed that they've done it before. Maybe they don't want to be infantilized by you, the child, right? A lot of parents feel that their children treat them. Like children and they don't like it and we get it right. All of us understand. We don't want to be treated like we're idiots. We don't want to be treated like we're stupid.
So we have to find a way to make these conversations productive and loving. And so there are ways to leave information behind for them. There's a way to say, Hey, my friend told me that this happened to their mom. I really thought it was crazy. I wanted to share with you. And I hope that if you ever get a call like this, that before you agree that you at least call me and let's talk about it that you try to open it up in a way that doesn't feel directly threatening to your parent or make them feel like you're trying to control them, because I really know that the last thing, any one of us wants is for our parents to be targeted in this way. But we also don't want to get into family arguments about these things.
So the way that you approach this conversation, depending on your parent, can be difficult, but it's really worth the time because like I said, $3 billion worth of fraud. And I'd say that's conservative estimate is happening every single year against our seniors in this country, whether they're wealthy or not so wealthy, it really doesn't matter how much money they have. And when we love people, that's what we do. We take care of them.
So I hope that this episode has inspired you to go out and have those family conversations. And do it from a place of love and care.
Do you have a question that you want answered on this podcast or an idea for one of my podcasts. Or. Are you somebody that might be a great guest for my podcast. I'd love to hear from you.
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