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Seniors targeted in Florida mortgage scam

West Palm Beach residents may take note of a local mortgage fraud scheme as a reminder that senior citizens may be especially susceptible to financial abuse. The case of a Delray Beach man convicted of bamboozling seniors with fraudulent loan documents illustrates the importance of staying involved with the financial affairs of senior loved ones. Certain tell-tale signs should raise red flags about a senior's ability to make sound financial decisions and may signal the time to consider establishing a guardianship.

Although the Delray Beach mortgage scam provides high-visibility evidence of the ease with which seniors can sometime be targeted for fraud, one insurance industry study suggests that family members represent the majority of perpetrators of senior financial abuse.

According to the study, family members are responsible for roughly 60 percent of senior financial abuse cases. Interestingly, sons are responsible for the majority of that percentage. In cases in which there is a risk that a senior may suffer financial exploitation by a family member, establishing a guardianship or conservatorship may help preserve estate assets to provide for the senior's future care and living needs.

Signs of elder financial abuse may include the sudden appearance of new friends, isolation by care providers, disappearance of possessions or financial papers, or unusual worry over money matters. Floridians concerned that a senior loved one may be the victim of financial abuse would do well to consider all of the available legal options to determine whether establishing a guardianship or conservatorship may be in the senior's best interest.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "When senior mortgage fraud hits home," Lew Sichelman, March 16, 2012

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