Are elders in ethnic communities more susceptible to elder abuse than others? This question faces residents, lawmakers, and law enforcers of San Francisco as the city tries to combat the rising number of “affinity crimes” against its elder population.
While elders across the board become increasingly targeted by scams, fraud, and other financially manipulative schemes, elders in ethnic communities may be increasingly vulnerable due language gaps or socioeconomic disparity. According to the San Francisco Institute on Aging and the California Elder Justice Coalition, elders of color and in ethnic communities suffer significantly from predatory lenders, foreclosure, and mortgage scams. The studies suggest that elders in ethnic communities – especially those who are not fluent in English – have difficulty distinguishing fraud from aid. As in the recent mortgage scam of Edwin Parada, fraud-committing individuals may prey on this weakness by placing themselves in positions of trust or authority with respect to the elder. Like Parada, who targeted elder Latinos in San Francisco with fraudulent mortgage sales, a scammer will typically establish a relationship of dependence or trust by virtue of common culture or language, and then misleads the elderly individual into making detrimental financial decisions to the benefit of the scammer.
These and other instances of elder financial abuse are not limited to large-scale scams, and it is unfortunately the more subtle type of crime that most often goes unnoticed. In one such scam, individuals “volunteer” at nursing homes or senior centers and then quickly pretend to befriend an elder resident with the intent to “borrow” cash from them. These scammers prey on the perceived naivety and kindness of the elder.
California has been a pioneer in elder abuse laws and protection, but seniors and those surrounding them must continue to be vigilant and report any suspected instances of elder abuse as soon as they occur. If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse in California, contact the Evans Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation at 415-441-8669 or 888-50-EVANS, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.