San Francisco Summit Honors Leaders in Elder Financial Abuse Prevention

300 advocates gather to share best practices

SAN FRANCISCO — A geriatric physician, a lawyer, a retired L.A. police detective and a banker received awards last Thursday for their work in combating financial crimes against the elderly.

Call To Action HonoreesDr. Laura Mosqueda of UC Irvine, Prescott Cole, senior attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Chayo Reyes, retired LAPD detective, and Roberta Wong of Bank of the West were honored by San Francisco based nonprofit Elder Financial Protection Network (EFPN) for their work in fighting the growing crime of elder financial abuse.

“A growing subset of our senior population are becoming victims of financial fraud,” said San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who opened “Call to Action 2008”, EFPN’s fourth annual conference in the Carnelian Room-Bankers Club.

The event drew 300 law enforcement officials, financial services executives, elder advocates and social service representatives from throughout California and the West Coast. Among the speakers: California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who during his tenure as state attorney general dramatically expanded support for investigating and prosecuting crimes against the elderly; Bill Cheney, president of the California Credit Union League; and Bob Blancato, national coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition, which is seeking passage of the Elder Justice Act.

Theft and scams against the elderly are on the increase because seniors are an increasingly bigger share of the population. The elderly are also prime targets for predators “because they have lived a lifetime of productive work,” Harris said. “They have acquired assets — property, cash and jewelry. They are at a stage in life when they may be experiencing the onset of dementia. They may be vulnerable because they must rely on others for their physical care.”

The perpetrator may be a family member, caregiver, trusted financial advisor, telephone scam artist or unscrupulous insurance agent, such as the one who sold a $650,000 annuity to a 93-year-old man with dementia. Reporting and prosecution are hindered by harsh reality.

“The elders don’t report.” said Harris. “They don’t want you to think they can’t take care of themselves. They want to be treated with dignity.”

The Call to Action 2008 conference focused on best practices in banking, trends in insurance and real estate fraud and proposed changes in the law to make prevention and convictions easier to achieve.

“Call to Action is about building bridges and networks of support,” said Jenefer Duane, EFPN’s founder and CEO. “Together we can work to create a safer, more secure future for our treasured elder citizens”

EFPN is an award-winning nonprofit organization that works to prevent financial abuse of elders through innovative partnerships that build public awareness, drive community outreach and provide professional training. For more information, visit www.bewiseonline.org or call 415 956-5556.

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