Dec 14, 2011

Are People Living with Dementia Being Conned Out of Billions of Dollars in the United States and Around the World?

There can be little doubt that persons living with Alzheimer's are vulnerable to con men and scams. This should come as no surprise to members of the Alzheimer's community.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Are People Living with Dementia Being Conned Out of Billions of Dollars in the United States and Around the World?
A recently published report by the Alzheimer's Society (UK) indicates that "people with dementia are being cheated out of at least £100 million". This converts to $154,416,956. Thats 154 million dollars

The report, Shortchanged: Protecting people with dementia from financial abuse, reveals that 15% of people living with dementia - an estimated 112,500 people - have been victims of financial abuse such as cold calling, scam mail or mis-selling.

62% of carers reported that the person they care for had been approached by cold callers or doorstep sales people, and 70% reported that telephone callers routinely targeted the person they care for.

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After reading this and extrapolating from the numbers it seems likely to me that U.S. citizens suffering from dementia could be being "bilked" out of more than a billion dollars.

There are about 6 times as many people suffering from Alzheimer's in the United States as there are in the England. You can do the math. My guess is that my estimate of the problem here in the U.S. is low.

If you read the article, What Was the First Sign of Alzheimer's Disease in Your Case?, you will learn that many Alzheimer's caregivers say that the inability to balance a checkbook is often an early, sometimes the earliest, sign of dementia. Managing money is also a big problem.

Many people that are commenting on this Alzheimer's Society story are shocked and cannot understand how it could happen.

Many of the comments center around a simple issue, how could a person suffering from Alzheimer's be left alone to be scammed? This can be explained by simple facts. Alzheimer's is hard to detect, and hard to diagnose.

Doctors and families are not good at spotting or diagnosing Alzheimer's. See, Doctors and Family Not Good at Detecting Alzheimer's and Dementia.

Let's take Dotty as an example. Even after Dotty was diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's, she could still drive, shop in the grocery store, play bingo, and if I let her, write a check.

As it turned out, after I arrived on the scene I learned that Dotty had been scammed.

She gave an old car to a guy who promised to pay her $500. She never received the payment.

A neighbor enlisted Dotty to help him sell his condominium and promised to pay her $500. Never happened.

Dotty was writing all kinds of small checks to charities, maybe 50 a year.

The biggest problem of them all was the use of a credit card to obtain spending money. Dotty thought it was a bank debit card. As a result, when she would look at her bank account she had plenty of money to spend. Spend she did, on thousands of lottery tickets. Weactually had to go to court to solve the credit care problem. We won.

Another story that comes to mind was about a man that started befriending persons with early stage dementia. He found them by attending support groups and then becoming friends with "old" women that lived alone. He then scammed them.

Here is a story that might get your attention, Caregiver Steals $138,000 from 83 Year Old Woman. As you will learn from this story persons living with dementia can be scammed by people they trust.

Have an in home caregiver for someone suffering from Alzheimer's? Are you routinely checking bank accounts, checking to see if certificates of deposits are being sold or are still intact, checking credit card bills? Not many people do. They find out when the poop hits the fan.

Just recently a friend told me that his mother is buying the same services over and over from the same person. Services that she doesn't need. This amounting to many thousands of dollars.

A word to the wise is sufficient. Spread the word. It is better to be safe, rather than sorry.

Also see, People with dementia being conned out of £100 million, and Con artists cheats £5m out of dementia sufferers in Wales.

Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 3,101 articles with more than 452,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room