Program Recap - Oct. 1, 2014
The Rotary Club of Cashiers Valley welcomed noted attorney Leonard F. Baer as guest speaker at its most recent breakfast meeting. Mr. Baer is an impassioned champion of elder rights, a member of the National Academy of Elder Law, and has testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Aging. He spoke to the club specifically about financial exploitation and other fraud committed against elderly people.
Baer pointed out that fraud comes in many forms, but all of them prey on the loneliness, ignorance or fears of elderly people. Five years ago, when Baer took what would prove to be a seminal case in his practice, there was little in the way of successful or aggressive prosecution against those who committed elder fraud. Witnesses tended to be older and many of the victims suffered from dementia or decreased mental capacity.
While great progress has been made since then, the rate at which fraud occurs has only grown. Scams and scammers, Baer noted, are impervious to fluctuations in the economy. Indeed, each new boon or bust presents a new tactic with which to target new demographics. Email and social media act as virtual gateways to victims and easily recognizable scams, such as the Nigerian Prince who needed your help, are gone. Today’s scams appear in the guise of normal, everyday activities: meeting new people at church, employing home help, or receiving bank notices, subscription renewals, or IRS fines.
The only true weapon against elder fraud, said Baer, is vigilance. Follow up on your gut instincts and ask questions that go beyond the superficial. Make anonymous calls to the Department of Social Services if you fear an acquaintance is being exploited. “Above all, protect yourself,” he advised, “and the people you love.”
The Rotary Club of Cashiers Valley meets every Wednesday morning at the Cashiers United Methodist Church at 894 Highway 107S in Cashiers. To learn more about the club or how to join, please visit www.cashiersrotary.org.