The Department of Justice recently indicted four men including two individuals who are located in Canada and two in the state of New York for a mass-mailing scheme that robbed thousands of senior citizens of tens of millions of dollars.
Based on the Canadian indictments, the accused fraudsters sent mail to thousands of elderly individuals whose names and addresses were obtained from mailing lists. The mail promised cash prizes in exchange for a fee of anywhere from $19.95 to $39.95 and included a return envelope to mailboxes across the United States that were rented using fake identities.
Based on the New York indictments, the accused fraudsters sent mail to hundreds of thousands of elderly individuals in the guise that they could win millions of dollars in cash rewards if they paid a fee between $19.99 to $24.99. Many of the people who sent money in response were elderly. These alleged fraudsters obtained the names and addresses of victims through mailing lists and netted $7.5 million per year.
Remember, it’s not unheard of for mail fraudsters to utilize any method possible to obtain personal information to commit their crimes. The selling of names and addresses is a common occurrence in the marketing industry and it is a common trend for fraudulent individuals to obtain such information in massive amounts and utilize this data to launch a scheme.
How to Protect a Loved One from Mail Fraud
While no one is 100% safe from mail fraud, there are fortunately some helpful steps that you can take to protect your loved which include:
- Routinely call or visit your loved one. If a senior citizen has a new friend or becomes isolated, be aware of the potential risk of abuse. These situations increase the chances that undue influence could occur and someone could exert control over your loved one’s assets.
- Make sure that your loved one opts out of commercial mail solicitations. You can do this by arranging for a ban of five years at a time with the Direct Marketing Association’s mail preference service. It is similarly possible to take steps to block robocalls by utilizing your phone service’s anti-robocall service.
- Caregivers who are emotionally or financially stressed sometimes take assets belonging to the people who they care for. As a result, it is a good idea to make sure that your loved one’s caregiver is sufficiently rested.
- If you are worried about your loved one’s ability to make financial decisions, you should consider creating a small bank account for them where a small portion of their assets is placed. Meanwhile, the bulk of the assets can be stored in a more secure and undisclosed account.
Speak with an Elder Law Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been subject to elder abuse, you should not hesitate to speak with a compassionate attorney who will fight for the results you deserve. Contact Ettinger Law Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation.