The Professional Predator – They never advertise that they are financial predators – they always appear to have the potential client’s best interest in mind. They lure the client in with enticingly safe opportunities – not to get rich (or so they say) but to “protect” what the client already has … and perhaps make a safe but minimal interest.
To do this they have to know all about the potential client’s assets. This is much too personal a topic to approach in a first-time one-on-one conversation. They offer a “free seminar” at a local restaurant – perhaps one frequented by … SENIORS. In this audience they can readily source their next prey.
The prospective client is congratulated for what they have done thus far with their assets – especially in a financial world that is so convoluted.
“You must be working with a financial advisor ….” It is their opening question skillfully presented in the complementary form of a statement.
“No,” the prospect proudly responds. And the hook is set.
The, “professional-soft-predator” does not overtly TAKE the prospective client’s money – they move it into areas whereby the predator accumulates commissions. These commissions are monies the client would otherwise be continuing to accumulate.
There is also the insidious, “relational predator.” This scoundrel is not satisfied with a commission. There is nothing professional about this predator. It is an, “all-or-nothing” proposition; they get ALL and the victim gets NOTHING.
I have particular strong feelings towards this predator. This is the individual that is either a family member (often the seemingly outcast/victim of the clan) or an individual who has made their way into professional senior services, i.e. nursing homes, hospitals, volunteer organizations, pharmacies and the like.
Their method of control:
Build a warm relationship. Seldom if ever does the topic of discussion evolve into money matters. It’s all about caring for the soon to be victim.
Gain confidence through half-truths (which are full-lies). In a general conversation they may turn to the internet to produce what they describe as horrible atrocities being perpetrated against unsuspecting seniors. They cleverly remove any suspicion from themselves, gain confidence by their technological adeptness and are ready with opinions as to what the victim should have done to have protected themselves. EVERYONE ELSE IS PRESENTED AS THE POTENTIAL PREDATOR.
As the senior is lured into a deeper conversation, doubts and suspicions arise. These are quickly fueled by the relational predator. This also allows the predator to segue into a more aggressive anger towards anyone who would take advantage of the elderly – especially an elderly person who lacks technological and financial skills to protect themselves.
Having created the doubt, the relational predator turns his or her attention to the ignorance of the victim in the story – all the time quietly manipulating his or her victim to identify with the very person to whom the predator is speaking.
Once the unsuspecting victim identifies with the victim of the story the predator’s aggression turns on them. “How could anyone be so ignorant, so stupid to let this happen? You’ve got to protect yourself from your (fill in the relationship). I hate to tell you this but they are taking advantage of you … Let me protect you …”.
The predator then begins to usurp every waking moment of his or her victim’s life. It may be by phone calls it may be by tasks given to the victim. Whatever the method, THEY become the only source of information for the victim.
The predator begins to isolate the victim from any and all other relationships that might otherwise thwart their insidious plan.
This “Stockholm Syndrome” relationship ultimately beats the victim down to capitulating their assets – if for no other reason – to find peace from the constant fear they have been led to live in.
Financial predators can be found everywhere. Government agencies never contact individuals by phone. However, the prank phone call remains one of the most terrifying and lucrative methods used by financial predators.
At this very moment my sister-in-law remains uncertain about the condition of her home in Santa Rosa. The terrible northern California fires are devastating. She informed me that she has received dozens of telephone solicitations from unscrupulous predators offering their, “guidance and financial assistance during these difficult times.”
You might ask how they find their victims. In this case it is quite simple. They survey news sources to determine what areas have been affected by a calamity. They search the internet, first turning to the White Pages, for the names of individuals on specific blocks. The information is readily available. If the information is blocked, for a small fee information about anyone can be purchased. The “reward” these predators gain for their small investment of money, time and research is staggering!
According to the latest figures:
$17 billion is lost to exploitation by means that are technically legal but deceptive in their financial practices.
$13 billion is lost to fraud whereby illegal scams secure funds from unsuspecting seniors.
$7 billion is lost to caregivers or other people whom the senior trusts to take care of them.
SO HOW DO SENIORS PROTECT THEMSELVES?
Once again, one of the most important tools seniors have is their SOCIAL CONTACT AND INVOLVEMENT. The watch-care offered by social groups is invaluable to the protection of each individual. Watch for drastic changes in each other’s routine. Past due notices, changes in shopping routines, products being purchased, sudden interests in ways to raise money through reverse mortgages or other legal (but not necessarily appropriate to the individual’s circumstances) means, or the sudden plethora of sweepstakes and junk mail mail may be evidences that a seniors has fallen prey to a financial predator.
It is a challenging concern for seniors – no wonder it is listed as the 7th greatest concern. To fall prey to a financial predator is embarrassing and demeaning. It is a crime that often goes unreported but is a crime of enormous loss. When it involves a family member it is unthinkably heartbreaking.
Be wary of the “Perfect Person” … he or she does not exist!
Be wary of overly polished and winning smiles. This is not to say judge individuals because they smile. It IS TO SAY that the uncomfortable fixed smile and penetrating eyes that make you uncomfortable – probably should!
Be wary of the fast talker. These individuals speak in fine print – and it usually isn’t to your benefit.
Be wary of the, “must take advantage of it, “RIGHT NOW!” Ask yourself, “did I have it yesterday? Was I still okay?
Watch for friends who suddenly become withdrawn, isolated.
Watch for friends who a continually changing their will.
Finally, the family-member-predator is willing to take their time. They are in no specific rush to culminate their deed(s) – unless circumstances appear that might thwart their ultimate objective(s). Addressing this is difficult. Feelings will be hurt. Wedges will be driven between family members. Sides will be taken. In such cases it is often necessary to bring in an independent professional mediator. The pain felt by the process is by no means comparable to the harm perpetrated by the predator if he or she is left unchecked.
In conclusion, know yourself and be truthful with yourself about your vulnerabilities. Protect yourself utilizing a trusted attorney. At some point we have to make an intelligent and informed decision to trust someone with a proven track record. Even then it is advised to go slowly and meticulously verifying each and every step as you move forward.
Loads of luv’n,