Understanding Safety Planning For Financial Elder Abuse

Before discussing any type of safety planning for financial elder abuse, we must first make everyone aware of what is meant by “financial elder abuse“, and how prevalent elder abuse is in the United States. Only then can we begin to explore any type of safety planning to try to prevent this despicable occurrence from affecting our older community members.

What is financial elder abuse? That is the first category that we will explore. Following that, we’ll look at an overview of safety planning, and how we can protect ourselves and others against financial abuse. Finally, we will offer some of the best representation for those requiring legal assistance following financial elder abuse.

What Is Financial Elder Abuse?

The elderly, in general, are considered particularly vulnerable to financial abuse. This is when a person misuses or simply takes an older adult’s assets. More often than not, this is done without the senior person even being aware of it, and certainly without their approval. These assets are necessary for the elderly to sustain themselves, so it is a particularly heinous act.

How Prevalent Is Elderly Abuse?

As it applies to people 60 years of age or older, some type of elderly abuse has occurred to one in every 10 individuals in the United States. It is thought that roughly 5 million elderly individuals are abused every year. To make matters even worse, only approximately one in every 14 elderly abuse cases are actually reported.

Though financial abuse is only one type, there are many kinds of elderly mistreatment occurring today.

An Overview of a Safety Plan

All too often, our elderly residents are in danger of being scammed, manipulated, etc. – particularly where financial matters are concerned. This can happen through the efforts of a friend, relative, or even a stranger. To manage potentially dangerous situations, a safety plan should be in place in advance. Be aware of available prevention methods.

How to Prevent Financial Elder Abuse

First and foremost (to prevent financial elder abuse), to monitor brokerage and bank account activity, a “trusted contact” should be put in place. That’s step one!

There are services for which the elderly can sign up that will look at an individual’s financial activity. Should anything unusual be detected, this contracted person will notify a representative of the individual (their trusted contact) as to any curious spending or withdrawals.

Here are other ways to prevent financial elder abuse:

  • If you don’t understand a document, do not sign up for anything that it pertains to.
  • With your parent’s caregiver (or other elderly individual), develop a relationship. If they know you’re paying attention, they’ll be less likely to exploit the person financially.
  • So that no check-cashing needs to be done, direct deposit should be used whenever possible.
  • Through emails, visits, or regular phone calls, stay connected to elderly loved ones.
  • Make sure that healthcare directives and a power of attorney is designated by an individual while they are still mentally sharp.

About Weltz Law And Financial Elder Abuse

Weltz Law is a securities law firm. Weltz Law has represented numerous clients nationwide in all aspects of commercial and securities litigation. For instance, we represent broker misconduct and fraud victims in FINRA arbitration and securities litigation matters.

If you or someone you love has been a victim of financial elder abuse, do not hesitate to contact the knowledgeable and experienced representatives at Weltz Law.

On our website, you can review individual case results to see what we have achieved for others. Though our focus is mainly on FINRA arbitration against dealers/brokers, feel free to contact us should you wish to speak to one of our representatives about something else.

Understanding Investment And Fraud Threats During COVID-19

Leave it to imaginative frauds and scammers to come up with a plan through which to bilk people out of their hard-earned money – and during one of the most distressing occurrences to take place in the United States in a long time. Investment and fraud threats are running rampant while COVID-19 devastates more and more individuals, families, and businesses every day.

Sadly, the opportunity for fraud seems to increase as turmoil elevates. The coronavirus has impacted the daily lives of many. This includes the stock market, the economy, and much more. FINRA, the regulatory body for the securities industry, has issued a warning to investors regarding COVID-19 fraud and investment threats.

Scams, Fraud, And More

During COVID-19, new scams have been created. During the crisis, however, new life has been breathed into many old scams, as well. In ways that are both unfamiliar and familiar, recent events have left investors vulnerable. The remote working environment has very possibly been the greatest shift affecting not only Americans but millions of people worldwide.

Fraudsters, or bad actors, have been using customer relationships with firms – and investor communications in particular – to take peoples’ money. Remaining vigilant is the best way to fight against this new fraud outbreak. This applies to investors, brokers, and broker-dealers alike.

Watch Out for the Following Scams

Here are four scams that were brought to our attention by FINRA:

  • Schemes Involving Business Email Compromise – These typically involve individuals that have legitimate fund transfer capability or abilities. In an email from someone that the individual is used to doing business with, a request is made to send funds to a new account.
  • Scams Involving IT Help Desks – A new way to trick investors is offered to scam artists through recently adapted remote work arrangements. Customers are contacted by fraudsters pretending to have an IT problem solution that is directly related to the financial firm of the customer. Account numbers, passwords, and login information can be stolen, as well as other personal confidential information.
  • Firm Imposter Scams – Once again, telecommuting and remote work environments helped set up this scam. Investment professionals and broker firms are impersonated by these fraudsters. Customers are tricked into handing over passwords, usernames, logins, existing account information, and other personal info.
  • Fraudulent Money Transfers and Account Openings – Fraudulent new accounts have spiked, according to brokerage firms reporting to FINRA. Firms offering to open online accounts are most at risk here. To divert payments and/or funds, phony accounts are used by fraudsters.

About Weltz Law And Investment Scams and Fraud 

Irwin Weltz, Thomas Wolinetz, Eleni Kakos, Gabriel Gerbi, and Robert Volynsky, originally founded Weltz Law. Since then, we have successfully represented investors nationwide in all aspects of securities and commercial litigation. One example of our services includes the representation of broker misconduct and fraud victims. We’re also experienced in representing clients in a vast array of other matters.  

If you have been approached by someone you feel may be a fraud or a scammer, do not hesitate to alert the authorities. If you’ve already been the victim of a scam, con artist, fraud, etc., contact the knowledgeable and experienced representatives at Weltz Law.

On our website, you can see for yourself what we have achieved for others by reviewing individual case results. Though our focus is basically FINRA arbitration against stock brokers and financial advisors, feel free to contact us should you want to discuss something else with one of our representatives.

Top Tips To Protect Your Money And Avoid Fraud

Today, to avoid fraud, one must be super vigilant! Robo phone calls or calls from nefarious individuals frequently ask for return phone calls. They then manage to acquire personal information, money, or both from unsuspecting victims. This happens each and every day. Mail and email scams are not at all uncommon either. There are so many ways for someone to obtain your personal information, financial records, or talk you into writing a check that it’s surprising anyone can avoid these unscrupulous methods. But avoid them you must.

Investments in fraudulent causes/businesses is another way for unsuspecting victims to get roped into giving up their hard-earned cash. Here, we are going to look at some investment scams, and offer a little bit of advice as to how to protect your money and avoid fraud.

Investment Frauds

Some of the most common tactics (and things that scammers may say) to entice you to invest are as follows:

  • Scarcity – “Quick! Sign up now, there are only a couple of units left.”
  • Reciprocity – “If you buy now, I’ll give you half off, and take a break on my commission.”
  • Social census – “Everyone is investing in this. It’s how my church congregation, my mom, and my best friend all got their start.”
  • Source credibility – “I would never dream of dealing in something that isn’t productive and moneymaking. After all, I am the senior vice president.”
  • Phantom riches – “You’re guaranteed an income of at least $6,800 a month if you invest in this business!”

How to Protect Yourself

The following strategies may well be the difference between losing your money or personal information and protecting them both:

  • Solicitation lists – get off! Use the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry to reduce the number of sales pitches received.
  • Before investing, discuss it with someone you trust. This is particularly applicable if the person asking for money says something on the lines of, “This is a very special deal. Don’t share it with anyone else!” If a salesperson says that, be very skeptical. Secrets are not needed by legitimate professionals. Discuss your possible investment with an accountant, lawyer, financial professional, or family member first. Even if the investment and seller seem to be legitimate and/or registered.
  • Ask questions – turn the tables on them. Ask as many questions as you can think of. Check up on the person and the company who is calling. Don’t give any information about yourself unless they’re willing to give up information as well. Even then, be wary.
  • Make the conversation come to an abrupt end. Practice these responses: “Not interested.”, “No.”, or something on those lines. If you must, tell them you’ll get back to them after you think about it. If the pressure rises, so that you can leave the conversation quickly, figure out an exit strategy ahead of time.

Weltz Law for Scams and Fraud 

At Weltz Law, we understand how easy it is to be taken in by experienced scam artists and frauds. Even the best of us, in a moment of weakness, can fall prey to phone calls from fraudulent sources who are interested in nothing more than gaining our information or tapping into our financial resources.

If you feel that you, someone you know, or someone you love has fallen prey to a scam or a fraud, contact us immediately. Don’t wait another minute. Schedule a free consultation to find out what your recourse is and how to stop these thieves from victimizing others.

Importance Of Raising Awareness Of Elderly Financial Exploitation

Before we can stress the importance of raising any kind of awareness where elderly financial exploitation is concerned, we must first enlighten those not familiar with what is meant by the words “financial elder abuse”. After that, we can talk about heightening awareness regarding the topic. We’ll then offer assistance to those who feel they may have suffered from this type of exploitation or have a loved one who may be a victim.

Financial Elder Abuse – What Is It?

Sadly, some form of elder abuse (in people 60 years of age and older) has been experienced in 1 of 10 Americans. Every year, it is estimated that approximately 5 million elderly individuals are abused. Unfortunately, authorities are only alerted to about one in every 14 cases of elderly abuse. There are many forms of abuse, however. One, in particular, deals with finances.

To fraudulent investment strategies and predatory schemes, our elderly population is particularly vulnerable. When one of these scams befalls older people, it can be referred to as financial elder abuse.

A technical definition of what constitutes financial elder abuse is as follows: When a person takes or misuses the assets of an older adult – who are routinely considered vulnerable – for their own personal benefit, this constitutes financial elder abuse. It often occurs without the consent of a disabled or senior adult and possibly even without their knowledge. This results in the deprivation of financial resources belonging to the elderly individual, which are required for their personal needs.

How to Be Aware Of Financial Elderly Abuse

There are signs and symptoms that can alert you to the presence of financial elderly abuse. To help raise awareness, here’s what to watch out for:

  • Investment in gas and oil ventures
  • Ponzi schemes (promises of no risk but a high return rate)
  • Investment in promissory notes
  • Charging unnecessarily high fees for equally unnecessary trades (that the investor will not benefit from)
  • Investments that are truly unsuitable considering the risk tolerance of the investor, even though they offer a high rate of return
  • … And more

About Weltz Law And Elderly Financial Exploitation

We represent clients in all aspects of commercial and securities litigation, Weltz Law represents numerous clients throughout the country. As an example, we represent broker misconduct victims as well as representing clients in a full range of other matters. On our website, you can review case material at your leisure.

If an elderly loved one, or you yourself, have been a victim of financial elder abuse and have, therefore, suffered monetary losses, contact us. We can help you seek compensation from the responsible parties. It is essential that in order to be assisted fully, you retain a capable securities litigation attorney. In state and federal litigation, as well as FINRA arbitration, we have decades of client representation experience at Weltz Law.

Though our focus is mainly on FINRA arbitration against dealers/brokers, should you wish to speak to one of our representatives about something else, feel free to contact us.

A Quick Guide To Understanding Breaches Of Fiduciary Duty

Breaches of fiduciary duty occur when someone or a group fails in their duty to act in the best interests of someone else (or group) specifically. As an example, a breach of fiduciary duty may have been performed if a member of a Board fails to uphold their duty to a company’s shareholders. Litigation is common following breaches such as this. In these situations, a corporate lawyer can be of assistance. However, if the basics of the fiduciary duty held by particular individuals or members is better understood ahead of time, it can be extremely beneficial.

Fiduciary Duty Claim Elements

In breach of fiduciary claims, four elements must be satisfied. They are as follows:

  • Causation – This element establishes that, associated with a board member breach, damages were incurred by a plaintiff.
  • Damages – It must be established that, as a direct result of a breach, the shareholder experienced specific damages. There won’t be any basis for case building if this element can’t be shown.
  • Breach – The fiduciary duty must have been breached – or broken – by a board member. Frequently, self-serving decisions made by board members can be the cause for a fiduciary breach. Although, depending on the case, to establish a breach, exact required evidence varies.
  • Duty – This means that, between two parties, a duty must exist. As an example, to shareholders, a fiduciary duty is held by board members.

Basic Fiduciary Duty Types

The benefit of shareholders should be the focus where the manner in which a board member conducts himself is concerned. This means that they are acting in a fiduciary capacity. There are three primary types of fiduciary duty, which are as follows:

  • Duty of loyalty – The needs of the shareholders must be placed first by a board member. If a decision places a shareholder at a disadvantage, the board member should not make that decision. When making decisions that will impact shareholders, board members must act with morality, fairness, and in good faith.
  • Duty of good faith – When making decisions, board members must always act in good faith. That means not fraudulently sharing possibly harmful details with shareholders or concealing them.
  • Duty of care – When it comes to making financial investments, caution must be used when a board member acts. In the best interest of a shareholder, decisions must be made by the board member.

Most Common Fiduciary Duty Breach Types

Breaches can occur in several ways when board member’s breach fiduciary duties to shareholders. The two most common breach types are as follows:

  • Misappropriating business opportunities – If, before the needs of the shareholders, the individual needs of a member are placed in a business transaction, the decision should never be made by board members. This also means that, regarding potential business offers to shareholders, board members must fully disclose any and all details.
  • Engaging in “interested” transactions – Board members are tasked with protecting and managing shareholder assets. This means that board members should not be engaging in self-serving deals or “interested” transactions.

Weltz Law and Fiduciary Duty Breaches

At Weltz Law, we can be of assistance regarding the representation of someone who feels they have been the victim of fiduciary duty breach.

Contact us today for a free consultation in matters such as this and in reference to other financial legal concerns.

A Guide To Ponzi And Pyramid Schemes

Ponzi and pyramid schemes may seem like they are one and the same, but they are not. Granted, in both types of schemes, through new investor contributions, existing investors are compensated, there are definite differences between them.

With a pyramid scheme, by recruiting new participants, existing participants are earning money. The existing participants are aware of this.

However, with a Ponzi scheme, the belief is that from their investments, participants are earning returns.

Below, we are going to take a more detailed look at Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes, how they differ, and give you some examples.

A Pyramid Scheme – What Is It?

A pyramid scheme, frequently appearing as a legitimate MLM (multi-level marketing) practice, may also be referred to as a chain referral scheme. Regardless, the business model is fraudulent. The recruitment of new members promises that if they enroll future members in the scheme, they will receive payments tied to enrollment. Eventually, however, the business becomes unsustainable because future recruiting becomes impossible.

Pyramid Scheme Examples

  • Give-and-take: For this fraudulent scheme, jail time was served by the individuals convicted of running it. The scheme involved a request of an entry fee being made by a group of operators. If entrants recruited new members of a certain amount, they were promised a bonus.
  • Burn lounge: A $17 million judgment was won by the FTC in this case. It involved luring people to an online music store. While victims recruited other participants into the “business”, they earned awards. They were also expected to pay for the right to sell music. However, the sale of merchandise was not in any way tied to the bonuses.

A Ponzi Scheme – What Is It?

This investment scheme is also a fraud. Here, on investments from new investor-driven capital, an operator pays returns. What’s the problem? Legitimate investment profits should be used to pay returns. With supposed abnormally high short-term return rates, the operators of Ponzi schemes entice new operators.

How does the perpetrator profit? They either just cut-and-run with the funds of investors or, on the “investments”, they charge fees. Eventually, however, these schemes will fall apart.

Ponzi Scheme Examples

JSG Capital Investments: Through investments in “hot” pre-IPO stocks, high returns were promised by two California men in this fraud. In actuality, no one ever made any investments.

Bernie Madoff: Defrauding investors of billions, this Ponzi scheme ran for nearly 20 years. The wealth management business was run by a Wall Street broker named Bernie Madoff. Thanks to a whistleblower by the name of Harry Markopoulos, the scheme was revealed.

The Big Differences

Both of these schemes are frauds. The big difference is, however, that, with promised returns at a later date, only investment in something from its victims is generally required for a Ponzi scheme.

Unlike Ponzi schemes, by recruiting more people into the scam, the opportunity to “make” money is usually offered to a victim in a pyramid scheme.

In catching these kinds of fraud, whistleblowers are essential. Against perpetrators of both pyramid and Ponzi schemes, the CFTC and SCC bring decisive actions.

Weltz Law For Scams and Fraud 

Do you feel you have been the victim of a Ponzi scheme or a pyramid scheme? Has a friend or relative come to you with concerns that they may have gotten themselves involved in one of these types of fraud? We can help.

At Weltz Law, every day, we assist people who feel they may have been victimized by fraudulent schemes. Contact us today for a free consultation.

7 Essential Tips To Prevent Investor Fraud

In America, investor fraud is a serious issue. Approximately one in 10 investors, according to conservative estimates, at some point in their lives will be a victim of investment fraud. Currently, these are the most common types of fraud:

  • Internet fraud
  • Voter fraud
  • Stolen tax refunds
  • Bank account takeover
  • Credit card and debit card fraud
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Fraud involving driver’s licenses
  • Mail fraud

However, investor fraud is currently a significant problem. So, is there a way to successfully prevent investor fraud? Actually, we are going to show you seven ways in which to do everything you can to avoid this problem.

Avoid Late-Night TV Ads, Emails, and Robo Calls

Stopping Robo-calls isn’t always easy. You answer the phone and before you know it, you’re part of a scam.  Don’t answer the phone for numbers you don’t recognize; that’s one step. But you don’t always have that luxury. If you do answer the phone, be careful what you say.

Companies considered legitimate don’t use these methods to reach out to people. Don’t be afraid to say “no” and stand your ground.

Emails can be blocked. Though phone numbers can be blocked, it’s likely that scammers use a different phone number every time they make a call. Don’t fall for TV ads late at night, either. Nothing is ever truly “as seen on TV”.

Become Familiar with the Salesperson

Don’t walk blindly into any transaction. If you can, follow the recommendation of a friend, relative, or reliable coworker. Don’t give anyone your trust just because they seem trustworthy.

Stay Away from Reciprocity

Free lunch at a seminar may seem like a good idea but it is a common trick used to lure people in. If something seems too good to be true – it is. Never invest right away, even if it seems like a good idea. Think about something for 24 to 48 hours before making a decision.

If It Says “Act Now” – Don’t!

This goes along with what we were just saying. Never act on impulse, and if someone tells you “Everyone’s doing it.”, no… everyone isn’t.

Unbelievable Returns – Beware!

If someone refers to “Almost no risk with a huge upside”, “breakout stock”, or “incredible gains”, watch out! These are huge fraud red flags. There is no such thing as a guaranteed return. NOTHING is guaranteed.

Research Like Crazy

Particularly in the day of the Internet, it is easier than ever to research almost anything. If you’re not sure, Google it. Check out the legitimacy of a company and their track record before you make any investment.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Asking questions is not only allowed, it is preferred. If you’re asking too many questions and it scares off a scammer, all the better. Here are a few queries:

  • What’s the liquidity of this investment?
  • Are my investment and my investment goals properly aligned?
  • In what ways might my investment be affected?
  • In reference to the company asking for an investment, how do they make their money?
  • Are there any fees involved?
  • If a product is involved, is it registered with state securities agencies or SEC?

Weltz Law & Tackling Investment Fraud

In all aspects of commercial and securities litigation, Weltz Law, a securities law firm, has successfully represented numerous clients throughout New York. We represent clients in a full range commercial and securities litigation matters. At your leisure, you can review case material on our website that demonstrates the success others have benefited from through our efforts.

If you have been a victim of investment fraud, do not hesitate to contact the knowledgeable and experienced representatives at Weltz Law. We will fight tirelessly for your cause to get you the compensation you deserve. Particularly in times like the present, no one should have to suffer at the hands of scammers and fraudsters. We can help you overcome the difficulties posed by fraudulent investments. Contact us today to discuss your case.

5 Ways To Prevent Financial Elder Abuse

America’s elderly are encouraged to build a safety net, of sorts, against financial abuse. This is essential on an individual basis, even though – to attempt to protect seniors and prevent financial elder abuse – regulators are stepping up their efforts.

Is elder financial abuse really that big of a problem? Yes. Up to $30 billion a year is lost by Americans due to elder financial abuse. This can happen in any number of ways including misappropriation of an elderly person’s money by the following individuals:

  • Family members
  • Trusted friends
  • Caregivers
  • Total strangers who are thieves or con artists

But, because the victims of this type of crime are either unable to report the abuse or are too embarrassed to do so, it frequently goes unreported. None too soon, however, that could change!

Changes Taking Place

A self-regulatory, brokerage overseeing agency – FINRA – has issued a new rule. Brokers must, regardless of age, ask customers for the name of a friend, family member, or other trusted contact.

  • If a client already exists, when they ask for updated information or the firm reaches out as a matter of routine, the request can be made.
  • If the client is new, when opening the account, the request for a trusted contact must be made.

This new rule is going to be of assistance in the prevention of financial elder abuse because, if the broker believes that financial exploitation is occurring, they are to reach out to that trusted individual. This could apply if large sums of money were suddenly being withdrawn by the elderly person (or someone else). Another instance would be that if the person in question has a cognitive impairment, assistance from a trusted representative may be needed.

Here are four more ways to help prevent elderly financial abuse.

Mail Solicitations – Get Rid of Them!

You can limit the amount of credit card offers, catalogs, and other direct mailings through the Direct Marketing Association. That’s going to mean less temptation as well as reduce the opportunity for fraud or mistake applications/purchases.

Call Limiting

Calls from salespeople can be reduced, though it may not completely prevent everyone from defrauding a senior. To block some Robo calls, individuals can sign up at Nomorobo. Additionally, call 888-382-1222 or register online at www.donotcall.gov to get yourself or someone else on the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry.

Sadly, there are numerous fraudulent phone call scams plaguing not only the elderly but everyone in general. It’s hard to stop these individuals because, as soon as one phone number from which they are calling is reported, they switch to another phone number.

Discuss Scams and Finances

As succinctly as possible, the elderly should be made aware of scams, fraudulent schemes, and other threats to their financial stability and security. This may or may not be received well, but an attempt should at least be made. If someone has several credit cards and accounts, to make things easier to monitor, this should be narrowed down to as few cards and accounts as possible. Finances should be simplified wherever and whenever they can be.

Direct Deposit – Use It!

To avoid Social Security and other types of checks through the USPS getting intercepted, lost, etc., direct deposit should be used. Nefarious caregivers, strangers rooting through the mail, or unforeseen postal related circumstances will not be responsible for making those much-needed checks go missing, this way.

Weltz Law And Elderly Financial Abuse

If you, someone you know, or someone you love has been a victim of financial elder abuse, contact representation at Weltz Law. We can help you analyze the situation and be of assistance regarding the appropriate follow-up. Our dedication and commitment have helped numerous individuals with their legal concerns.

Granted, our focus is mainly on FINRA arbitration against brokers and dealers. But if you’d like to confer with one of our representatives regarding elderly financial abuse or some other legal topic, please feel free to contact us.

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