Anthony Marshall was an accomplished soldier, Broadway producer and United States Diplomat. He now is a convicted felon who after four years of appeals has finally started serving a prison sentence for his role in stealing millions of dollars from his aging mother , society matron Brooke Astor. At the time that Marshall and his accomplice, Francis X. Morrissey, Jr. tricked Brooke Astor, who was then over a 100 years old into changing her Will to give tens of millions of dollars to Marshall, Mrs. Astor was already suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease. This case is an unfortunate example of elder financial abuse. Scams and financial abuse of the elderly is a three billion dollar industry in America and although the elderly only account for 12% of the population, they account for 30% of scam victims. Financial scams perpetrated upon the elderly take many forms, such as identity theft, affinity fraud, the grandparent scam, investment scams, Medicare scams, Social Security scams, lottery scams and charity scams. Also distressing is the fact that much elder financial fraud is perpetrated by family members, such as in the case of Anthony Marshall.
Although nothing you can do will guarantee that you will not become a scam victim, there are many things you can do to help protect elderly family members from scams and identity theft. First and foremost, the elderly person should pick two people to monitor and have access to his or her financial records. Because many trusted advisers and family members have been undeserving of such trust and have stolen from their family members, it is a good idea to have two people in that capacity. Other steps you can take include having the elderly person enroll in the Do Not Call List to avoid telemarketers. Documents that are not required to be kept that have personal information should be shred. Merely throwing them out puts these documents in danger of being harvested by dumpster diving identity thieves. Documents that should be retained should be kept in a secure place such as a locked safe or safe deposit box that is not accessible by caretakers or prying family members. The elderly person’s Social Security number and Medicare number, which is the same number, should be kept as private as possible. Social Security cards and Medicare cards should not be carried around by the elderly person. For more tips on how to protect yourself or an elderly relative or friend, check out my book ” A Guide to Elder Planning.” You can click on a link to the book on the right hand side of the front page of Scamicide to get the book from Amazon at a reduced price.