Do you know if your Grandma and Grandpa still have money left in their retirement account to assure their well-being until their death? If you don't, then you need to start asking some questions particularly if Grandma and Grandpa held their retirement savings in a self-directed IRA (SDIRA). After speaking to many victims of fraud promoters and Ponzi Schemers who are over 60 and many in their 70s and 80s, the number of fraudulent investment schemes preying on and targetting the elderly appears to be skyrocketing across the country. And that is a real problem because much like those victims of affinity fraud who are hesitant to even admit they have been defrauded, seniors are particularly unlikely to tell anyone about being scammed but particularly their own family.
The reason for that is very simple. As one 82 year old man told me-"they will have me in a nursing home tomorrow if they find out I lost my retirement money in a Ponzi scheme. They will think I am incapable of taking care of myself and all of my independence will be taken away." Are you listening relatives?
There is a unspoken belief among our population that if a senior, meaning someone 65 or over, invests in a Ponzi scheme and loses their money it is because they are incompetent. Really? Because I talk to 30 and 40 year olds who invested in Ponzi schemes and lost all of their money and they were never deemed incompetent for making the investment. So why is a senior treated differently?
I believe that the reason why financial elder abuse through fraudulent investment schemes is skyrocketing is because of this dirty little secret that everyone knows and no one talks about. There is a big difference between being fooled and being foolish. Fraudsters know how to swindle smart people-look at the Bernie Madoff victims or the Scott Rothstein victims. These Ponzi schemers stold the money of millionaires but I didn't read in any court filings or news reports that it was because the investors were incompetent to manage their personal affairs. No, they were simply scammed.
I encourage organizations such as the AARP to educate the public about these schemes and remove the shame prohibiting disclosure. I also encouage all of you to talk to the elderly members of your family and make sure they are not an undisclosed victim. We can't help people that we don't know have been swindled. Don't let the fraudsters get away because their victims are afraid to speak. Communicate and Educate People about this Dirty Little Secret of the Elderly.