Thursday, January 29, 2009

Seniors Duped in Financial Elder Abuse Scams

January 17, 2009. By Gordon Gibb

San Diego, CA: Next to child abuse, elder abuse is right up there with behaviors that turn the stomach—whether that abuse is physical, emotional of financial elder abuse. Financial abuse, especially against seniors who are in the twilight of their lives and long beyond their capacity to earn a living, leaves a bitter taste. Thankfully, financial elder abuse law is there to help protect then from crooks that attempt to rob them of the little money they have.

The problem with seniors and elders, as most will attest, is that they are often confused. Fraudsters pray on this limitation, all the way to the bank.

Consider the case of four seniors who were defrauded out of money via a bogus lottery scheme perpetrated by a California man. Kim Moy Hioe, himself a senior at 65, is alleged to have strung his victims along by informing them they had won a lottery, but would have to advance funds to pay for related fees, attorney's fees and taxes.

At least four seniors across the US fell for the scam, according to reports.

"In fact, there were no lottery winnings and Hioe and others were intentionally defrauding the elderly victims," alleged Special Agent Gregory Fine of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). "Hioe received funds from various victims and forwarded a portion of the money to Canada, keeping the remaining proceeds for himself."

The fake lottery scam came to light after an 81-year old pensioner in Lacer County, California tipped off the authorities. Hioe was arrested and put on trial in San Jose, with regard to the alleged fraud scheme.

Sometimes it's a fraud scheme like a lottery win. Other times it's the sensational emails that come from far-off lands, claiming the existence of large sums of money and offerring the recipient of the email a chance to have a stake in the treasure provided funds are advanced to cover everything from taxes, to legal fees. These are not fees at all, but an attempt to secure money for personal gain. There is no wealthy person who has died and has left the money to no one in partcular.

Sometimes it’s a friendly face knocking on a door, selling some kind of service that requires a payment of cash up front. Sometimes it's a phone call.

And sometimes it's an unscrupulous life insurance agent who finds a way to dupe an elderly client out of thousands, in an elder financial abuse fraud scheme.

In this case a San Diego insurance agent by the name of Edward Michael Ybarra is alleged to have collected $110,000 from a 78-year-old client for insurance investment purposes. It was later determined however, by way of an investigation by the Investigation Division of the California Department of Insurance, that $70,000 of that fund was diverted to Ybarra's own personal use.

"There are few crimes more heinous than taking advantage of a senior to cheat them out of their life savings,” said Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, who announced the arraignment of Ybarra on 3 felony counts of financial elder abuse, grand theft and using false statements in the sale of a security. “My Department is steadfast in its commitment to root out senior fraud and make sure that those who are convicted receive the toughest penalties possible.”

In the end, fraudsters who take advantage of seniors and commit financial elder abuse are cruel, and taking individuals who can least defend themselves for a financial abuse ride. Financial elder abuse law is there to protect seniors from these kinds of heinous crimes. If you are a senior who feels duped, or someone you love has fallen a victim to financial abuse, contact a financial elder abuse lawyer to explore your options

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