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San Diego Elder Abuse Alert: Police Looking for Three Suspects in Series of Scams

by John Gomez | Last Updated: November 17, 2016
San Diego Elder Abuse

Scams against the elderly occur constantly.  People who perpetrate these scams tend to be very good at what they do.  This is why everyone needs to be vigilant with regards to scammers targeting older people in whatever way they can.  Many times, one question, one sudden intervention or one statement can bring an end to a would-be scam immediately.

Unfortunately, it seems that three suspected scammers have been successfully targeting the elderly in recent months in San Diego County.  Police are actively looking for the three suspects and would like the public’s help in identifying them.

The San Diego based Gomez Trial Attorneys would like to raise awareness of this ongoing problem in hopes that the suspects can be identified.

About the Ongoing Scams

The San Diego Union-Tribune recently published a story describing the situation.  Those interested in reading it can find it here.  According to the story, three suspects are working in concert to target the elderly.  Police suspect the trio in approximately a half-dozen crimes.  These crimes occurred in Vista, Spring Valley and Imperial Beach among other locations.  The most recent incident involved a woman in Oceanside who reportedly gave the suspects $1,800 at the end of a strange and troubling situation.

About the Oceanside Scam

A 73-year-old woman was shopping at Walmart on August 24 in Oceanside.  A man approached her and told her in Spanish that he was from Costa Rica.  He said he needed help locating the immigration office nearby.  The woman responded that she could not help them.  A second man then appeared and the two of them convinced the woman to give them a ride to the immigration office.

As they were riding in the woman’s vehicle, the men told her that they had won $40,000 in the lottery and needed help collecting the winnings.  The woman became suspicious.  At that point her cell phone rang and the men took it from her.  They told her to drive to an ATM and withdraw $1,800, which she did.  She gave it to the two men and dropped them off in downtown Oceanside.  She noticed a dark van following them during this entire episode.  Police believe that the third suspect was driving the van.  This entire ordeal lasted approximately two hours.

Authorities released descriptions of the suspects as follows:

  • A Latino male, between 35 and 45 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 180 pounds with short curly hair and a heavy build
  • A Latino male, between 30 and 40 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 200 pounds with a thin build
  • A Latino male, between 30 and 40 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 180 pounds with a thin build

Law enforcement officials are asking anyone with information regarding the suspects to contact the Oceanside Police Department at 760.435.4572 or Crime Stoppers at 888.580.8477.  Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest.

Common Elder Financial Scams

Unfortunately, the problem of elder financial abuse is becoming so common that different organizations are now able to compile data regarding those scams that occur most often.  The National Council on Aging, or the NCOA, has put together a list of 10 common financial scams that target older people.  These scams include:

  1. Medicare/health insurance scams
  2. Counterfeit prescription drugs
  3. Funeral and cemetery scams
  4. Fraudulent anti-aging products
  5. Telemarketing/phone scams
  6. Internet fraud
  7. Investment schemes
  8. Homeowners/reverse mortgage scams
  9. Sweepstakes and lottery scams
  10. The grandparent scam

Anyone who would like to read descriptions for each of these scams can do so by clicking on this NCOA link.

Elder Financial Abuse Statistics

San Diego elder abuse is a growing problem, but unfortunately is only a very small part of the overall equation that is elder abuse and the financial exploitation of seniors.  According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, or NAPSA:

  • 1 in 20 seniors believe that they may have been financially exploited in the recent past.
  • 1 out of 44 cases of elder financial abuse is ever reported to authorities.
  • Nearly 10 percent of financial elder abuse victims will turn to Medicaid as a direct result of having money stolen from them.

Anyone interested in a full breakdown of elder abuse statistics that the NAPSA published can find them here.  The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, estimates that more than 500,000 seniors are harmed by financial elder abuse in the United States every year.  Given the dearth of reporting mentioned above, however, that number is likely much higher.  This under-reporting leads to a wide variance in estimates regarding amounts stolen every year.  Consumer Reports recently published an article that stated that anywhere between $3 billion and $36 billion is stolen annually.

How To Help Prevent Elder Financial Abuse

There are several ways that anyone can help to prevent financial elder abuse.  In terms of the instance in Oceanside mentioned above, people who notice a senior being harassed by what appear to be strangers can simply step in and ask if there is a problem.  On an ongoing basis, those who are close to seniors can think about doing the following:

  • Communicate – Let your loved one know that you want to help protect him or her from all of the scams that have been occurring.  Encourage that person to contact you if he or she feels unsure of any request or offer.
  • Learn – Take some time to learn about who is managing your loved one’s money if it is not you or that person.  Get the names of the people who are involved in his or her investments, savings, retirement accounts and the like.  Reach out to them to introduce yourself.
  • Oversee – In some cases, it may be wise to watch carefully for signs of financial difficulties.  For instance, if prized possessions suddenly go missing or your loved one suddenly feels the need to redo his or her estate or sell property, it could be a sign of a problem.

How San Diego Elder Abuse Lawyers Can Help

If you feel that a loved one has been scammed or financially exploited in any way and you want to take steps to attempt to recover what was lost, you need to seek the help of a San Diego based attorney who has been fighting for the rights of seniors successfully for more than a decade.

Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today to schedule a free initial consultation.

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