More than 6.8 million Americans aged 65 or older report they have been "taken advantage of financially in terms of an inappropriate investment, unreasonably high fees for financial services, or outright fraud," according to a recent Investor Protection Trust survey. Financial crimes and exploitation can involve the illegal or improper use of a senior citizen's funds, property or assets, as well as fraud or identity theft.
Although there are no exact statistics on how often financial crimes against the elderly occur, it is widely believed to be underreported by the victims. One study published by MetLife Mature Market Institute in 2011 estimated the financial loss by elderly victims exceeded S2.9 billion annually.
In 37 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, lawmakers have enacted criminal penalties to combat financial exploitation, fraud, identity theft and embezzlement against the elderly and other vulnerable populations. Across the nation, 130 bills were introduced in 2016, up from 89 in 2014.
Twenty-five states have a specific crime of financial exploitation in their statutes....