Art of Aging: Financial fraud

Financial Fraud against seniors has been called the "Crime of the 21st Century," and experts say the problem is only becoming more pervasive.

Rex Dawson and his mom had always been close, and their relationship only deepened after his father passed away. So when his mom started having money problems, it was a giant red flag.

"She needed 6 or $700 to cover some checks that she'd written that bounced, and that was really not like my mom at all. She was in business for 40-50 years," said Rex Dawson of Philadelphia.

And when Dawson tried to question his mom about her expenses, she refused to talk about it

Dawson said, "All of a sudden there was a lot of secretive behavior that started to happen."

He would soon learn she was the target of a scam artist posing as a romantic interest.

"He had asked for money and my mother gave it to him. Probably about 30 to 40, 000 dollars later, I was able to discover this," said Dawson.

Richard Massaux is Managing Director of Investments; Wells Fargo Advisors.

He says, "This is actually one of the fastest growing industries."

Experts say seniors fall victim to all sorts of fraud, from phone calls "telling them that they won sweepstakes and they just need to send money in," added Dawson.

To fake friends and even family members.

Joe Snyder is the Director of Older Adult protective Services; PCA.

He said, "Loneliness is a big deal here, that's why the scammers who traditionally stuck to the lottery scams are now appearing on dating sites."

Experts say the solution is seemingly a Catch 22. Seniors need to find someone they can trust, and ask for help while they're still in good physical and mental health.

Massaux said, "They should have all their wills, living wills, power of attorney all that set up with the person, the individual, and the family member who they trust."

That's what Rex Dawson's mother did, eventually granting her son power-of-attorney.

"I think she realized, I was really trying to help her and this guy was not. But by that time, most of her assets had been gone. She was kind of heart broken about the thing," said Dawson.

If you suspect a senior is being victimized, there are a number of organizations that can help.

We've posted some resources in our Art of Aging section. You can also visit the Philadelphia Corporation on Aging website. null
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.