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Minnesotans urged to protect seniors against financial exploitation

6/14/2016 10:05:56 AM

For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL — In conjunction with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is urging Minnesotans to help safeguard the state’s seniors by keeping a watchful eye for signs of financial exploitation and promptly reporting possible abuse to the appropriate officials.

“Elder abuse comes in many forms,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “In addition to physical maltreatment, it includes financial fraud and abuse. The threat of senior financial exploitation is expected to grow as the senior population itself grows. In Minnesota, the number of people age 65 and over will double between 2010 and 2030.”

With the aging of the population, elder financial abuse is on the rise as scam artists target seniors who may be isolated and seek to separate them from their life savings.

According to the Investor Protection Trust, one out of every five persons over the age of 65 has been victimized by a financial swindle.  One recent study estimated that older Americans are defrauded out of nearly three billion dollars each year. 

Rothman pointed to a recent case of senior financial abuse investigated by the Commerce Fraud Bureau.  Sean Meadows, an Eden Prairie financial adviser, was sentenced last year to 25 years in prison for investment fraud.

Meadows stole more than $13 million from at least 100 clients with a Ponzi scheme that promised high rates of return on their investments. Instead of investing the clients’ hard-earned retirement savings, he used their money to bankroll his own extravagant lifestyle, including gambling in Las Vegas.

“Many older Minnesotans are vulnerable due to social isolation and distance from family and other support networks,” said Rothman. “We need as many eyes and ears as possible listening and watching for signs of elder financial exploitation.”

To help fight this problem, the Commerce Department suggests watching for the following suspicious behaviors that may indicate potential exploitation:

• Has a new person entered the senior’s life and shown an excessive interest in their finances or accounts?

• Does the senior display unexplained excitement over a financial windfall or prize check and reluctance to discuss details?

• Has a senior moved away from existing relationships and toward new associations with other “friends” or strangers?

• Are you unable to speak directly with the senior despite repeated attempts at contact?

If you suspect financial exploitation, contact the Minnesota Commerce Department at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota). Suspected maltreatment should be reported to the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center at 844-880-1574, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Commerce is here to help. 

If you have a question or concern about a possible fraud or scam, contact the Commerce Department Consumer Services Center by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota).

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Media Contact:

Ross Corson
Director of Communications
Minnesota Department of Commerce
P: 651-539-1463 | C: 651-368-5050 | ross.corson@state.mn.us

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