When seniors are targeted in the systems
Elderly fraud is on the rise, with the elderly particularly vulnerable after the COVID-19 pandemic caused further isolation for a population already facing the challenges of loneliness and mental deterioration in recent years , said Josh Epstein, CPA / CFF.
Part of the difficulty in identifying and dealing with elder abuse is the shame and secrecy that makes victims reluctant to talk about how they have been targeted.
Epstein saw it with his own eyes when his widowed mother became the target of an online romance scam.
“I didn’t learn that until long after the fact,” Epstein said. “Fortunately, my mom was smart enough not to have any financial problems, but the potential is there.”
The experiment pointed out to Epstein why practitioners need to keep abreast of trends in financial abuse of seniors. To help practitioners identify the risks and signs of elder abuse, Epstein will speak on a panel at the upcoming AICPA & CIMA Conference on Forensic and Assessment Services, scheduled for 8-10. November in Las Vegas. The sessions are also available online.
Epstein, Senior Manager at MNP Forensics & Litigation Support in Toronto, will be joined by Robert Fowlie, CPA, Partner and Practice Leader of Ontario Forensic & Litigation at MNP, for the November 10 session.Fraud among seniors, including fraud against their property. “
Epstein offered an overview of his panel and provided advice on identifying how seniors can be targeted by fraud schemes involving estates, fraud schemes that occur after a person’s death, and how forensic accountants can help after allegations of fraud have arisen.
Identify the red flags: Whether it’s a phone call from someone trying to extract key personal and financial information, or someone known and close to an elderly person trying to steal money, corporate fraud older people tend to follow similar patterns, Epstein said.
Forensic accountants can help educate a senior’s family and caregivers about the red flags of elder abuse and how to look for red flags, Epstein said. Examples of red flags include unusual purchases on a senior’s credit cards, opening new financial accounts, or distant relatives who have suddenly moved in or taken on new roles in a person’s life. aged.
Epstein’s Canadian mother had been courted online by an individual posing as an Australian offshore oil rig worker who, during their virtual court, asked her for $ 30,000 to help him with an offshore oil rig. alleged emergency. Epstein’s mother did not hand over any money but also did not fully disclose the situation to her forensic accountant son. This is not uncommon, given the shame many victims feel at being duped and manipulated.
“I knew about the relationship very early on, but I was surprised how far she got and the fact that she didn’t keep me updated on what was going on, although I know that I was asking at the time, ”Epstein said.
Disputes after death: Forensic accountants like Epstein are often called in to examine how estates were divided by angry heirs, and he predicts that there will be an increase in those scenarios. Estate fraud is also quite common, and that’s what makes up a big part of Epstein’s workload.
“Where we are generationally, there are a lot of baby boomers who are obviously now retired or retired,” Epstein said. “They are getting older, and this is a pretty wealthy generation with kids who can challenge the way the assets these parents have amassed are distributed.”
Sometimes estate disputes are resolved without a problem. In other cases, and particularly with fraud, Epstein advises being prepared to review real estate transactions, purchases, bank statements, etc. to determine the extent of potential fraud and loss. This may include performing a detailed source and use analysis to track cash flow as well as investigative interviews with relevant parties.
When a dispute is in progress: Often, forensic accountants are called upon to assess financial information after filing a lawsuit related to elder fraud. Epstein recommends getting involved as early as possible to get accurate and timely information. Epstein also advises practitioners to work with attorneys for family members as and when necessary.
“Getting involved earlier in an investigation related to an estate dispute is an advantage in terms of access to documentation and information,” he said.
– Sarah ovaska is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. To comment on this article or suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek, a JofA editor-in-chief at Andrew.Adamek@aicpa-cima.com.