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Advice For The ‘Handshake’ Generation: Stay Connected, Stay Safe From Scammers

July 4, 2017

By Cindy Uken | The Bellingham Herald

More often than not, senior citizens will be scammed and defrauded by their loved ones, not strangers, according to the author of “How to Steal from Mom; A Wake-up Call for Seniors.”

  Laura Lee - Peoples Bank Security Officer 

“They will be preyed upon by those near and dear them,” said George Edward of Bellingham. Before retiring, Edward was the risk management officer for Whatcom Educational Credit Union. During his tenure he developed the WECU SAFE Program, tailored to combat the financial exploitation of senior citizens.

While leading the program from 2007-15, he investigated 120 cases of financial fraud and abuse cases. Seventy-five percent of the scammers were a son or daughter. The average age of their victims was 82.

In most cases, the victim was alone, physically disabled, confused or suffering from Alzheimer’s, Edward said.

The crime is often referred to as familial fraud. Familial fraud occurs when fraud is committed by one family member against another. Caregiver fraud may be committed by a family member but it could also be anyone trusted to help with legal, financial or personal business. In either case, the fraud is the same, said Laura Lee, senior vice president and security officer of Peoples Bank in Bellingham. Read more...