An article in yesterday’s Burlington County Times examines the rise of elder abuse cases in the county of Burlington, NJ, as well as the general rise of elder abuse cases across the United States. With the aging of the baby boomers, comes a rise in the population of people 60- years old and higher and therefore, a rise in the opportunity for elder abuse cases.
Financial scams, such as that in the case of 81-year old Betty Russell, who received a phone call from a young man posing as her grandson, saying he was in jail and needed her to wire him money for bail, are some of the most prevalent cases of elder abuse being reported in Burlington County and across the rest of the country.
Fortunately, Betty was able to catch the scam before wiring money because a good-Samaritan bank teller informed Betty’s husband that it could be a scam and to call their grandson and confirm his whereabouts. However, not all senior citizens are as lucky. Many senior citizens are being scammed out of their money and valuables through scams involving panicked phone calls, bogus contractors and exploitative “friendships” and relationships.
Many senior citizens are being scammed by phony phone calls asking for money
While the Elder Justice Act, which was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, has raised awareness of the epidemic of elder abuse and has resulted in more referrals of abuse, it has not stopped the abuse from happening.
Richard Strobel, chief counsel for the Burlington County Board of Social Services said that the largest number of abuse reports come from cases of self-neglect, which accounts for more than half of cases of elder abuse reported to APS across the United States. The second most common case of elder abuse in New Jersey is that of caregiver neglect, like the Riverside, NJ woman who was arrested for stealing over $100,000 from a 92-year old woman in her care by frequently calling the woman’s bank, posing as her and having money moved from one account to another, and then withdraw the cash.
Since New Jersey law enforcement is seeing this rise in elder abuse across their state, they are asking people to report any cases of abuse they may know of or feel like is being done to them. Members of the Burlington County Consumer Protection Department are speaking at senior centers to help get the word out about many kinds of elder abuse. They like to remind seniors about the old, but familiar motto: “If a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”
For more information on the impact of this rise in elder abuse in New Jersey, you can read the Burlington County Times article here.