Smiling faces, smiling faces, tell lies ... The Temptations. The game is the same when it comes to con men. They gain trust through friendly conversations, listening carefully for hints of financial trouble. They attend events like birthday parties and weddings; do favours like buying a lunch, and make repeated house calls.
And seniors are most susceptible to fraud because they often possess assets that can be accessed by scam artists, and because they may have fears of financial difficulties as they head into retirement.
"It happens thousands of times all across the country - and the No. 1 thing is he becomes a friend to them," Bloomfield Hills, Mich., lawyer Ronald Chapman told the Detroit Free Press. One in five citizens older than 65 have been swindled in by financial fraud. That's 7.3 million older Americans.
Don Blandin, president and CEO of the Investor Protection Trust, told the media source: "We've seen nationally a rise in financial exploitation against seniors."
Keith Epstein, a Farmington Hills financial adviser who pleaded guilty to bank-fraud charges in April, kept up a lifestyle of gambling and strip clubs from his scams.
In another situation, 78-year-old Carol Herrett from rural Ohio, and husband, Roger, lost a large portion of their saving after dealing with scam artists.
"Why we mortgaged the house, we don't know because it was paid off," Herrett told The Free Press. "We are just not suspicious people. We are stupid when it comes to that sort of thing."
They were feeling worried after some stock market losses and an investment adviser in Toledo, Ohio, duped them. "They were such nice people, easy to talk to, easy to work with and we trusted them.”
The Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation has initiated presentations for older adults and scams.