Warnings in Florida Alert Seniors and Family Members of Fraud

Warn, Support the Seniors in Your Family to Avoid Scams

The AARP shares articles on its website about how to avoid the latest scams targeting seniors. There are tips on how to warn seniors within your family about what they could be approached with by scam artists and watch for seminars that the AARP offers on fraud protection.

Winter Park attorneys Eric Lanigan and Roddy Lanigan regularly work with seniors and individuals in a variety of securities and investment losses situations to recover funds. The cases seen include class-action lawsuits against financial professionals, stockbrokers, and retirement fund account managers, who are accused of mismanagement, faulty investment advice, retirement fund misappropriation or theft.

The FBI, Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative, has issued warnings in Florida alerting seniors and family members of seniors about common investment scams and fraud.  Individuals with senior relatives in Florida are also told to be particularly wary of investment scams due to the large number of investment and Ponzi schemes that occur in the state. Florida’s population is the fifth oldest state in the nation according to the US Census Bureau.

Retirees have more long-term savings, steady income from fixed pensions and other retirement funds than younger populations. This makes the state and seniors in Florida a marked interest to criminals who target seniors and the millions of retirement fund dollars that they hold.

In an effort to protect and educate people over the age of 50, AARP information sessions are held across the country by local chapters on investment fraud, fraudulent offers that come in through direct mail, in-person, online, over the phone and on TV. 

Tips to Avoiding Scams Targeting Seniors

The message in each scheme varies but the tip-off that an investment may be questionable includes any of the following:

  • Tempting rewards for participation (bonuses, trips, gifts, freebies)

  • Investment in low-priced stocks, start-up companies or partnerships

  • Returns that are substantially higher than market conditions

  • Credit card is needed to pay for shipping a first investment returns check via FedEx/UPS/First-Class Mail

  • Fast financial gains messages

  • Large returns within unrealistic time frames

  • Minimal investment with massive returns

  • “Act now” or offer expires!

  • High profit, no risk

The AARP expresses that the initial contact with a criminal comes to seniors in a variety of ways, sometimes in multiple points of contact. The first step in protect senior family or friends from becoming victims is to know the threats and maintain close contact.

Families with senior relatives in Florida particularly, are told to provide support, guidance and ask questions about sudden relationships, new neighbors who come into the home “to help,” being approached by strangers with new business ventures, investments, friends with business ideas, to prevent being ripped off.

Seniors Are Susceptible to Fraud for Many Reasons

Florida seniors considered most at risk for investment schemes and are prime targets for investment scams and criminals have the following traits:

  • Live alone or lack a close network of friends

  • Consider investing based on the recommendations of friends, family members or co-workers

  • Accept telemarketing calls

  • Allow home or business solicitors to come into their home to talk

  • Attend investment events that include a free meal

  • Listen to salespeople who call on the phone

  • Read junk mail

  • Suffer from an illness or injury that limits their physical or mental abilities

A common way into a victim’s life begins by striking up a conversation with an individual who is open to talking to strangers. Seniors who are lonely, are more likely to talk with strangers if family and friends are not close.

Be aware of neighbors who suddenly volunteer to help. They should be known by a family member or friend before being allowed into the home.

Access to private financial information should be stored in a locked, private, secure location.

There are instances where individuals are approached while attending church, religious and charity functions by people posing as good samaritans and volunteers. People tend to have their guard down in these settings and are most receptive to suggestions by those who seem to be a part of their community.

If there is a question over a new investment made by a senior family member:

  • Check to see if the financial professional is licensed, registered and in good standing with the SEC

  • Find out by calling what the Better Business Bureau says about about a financial company or agency

  • Check with the local FBI office to see if the individual or business in question has been investigated

Protecting investments, property and retirement funds from criminals or unqualified, and qualified financial professionals is difficult over distance. If you or a family member become a victim of investment losses consult with Eric Lanigan or Roddy Lanigan of Lanigan and Lanigan, P.L. Find out if there is a method for recovering losses or charging those accused of committing fraud or misappropriation of funds.