Monday, January 16

It takes a village...

The Italians have a wonderful expression for when something happens someplace which is identical in breadth and scope of a happening somewhere else -- Tutto il mondo √® un paese - The whole world is a village.  
And so it was, while reading my Detroit Free Press, I was reminded of this when 44 yr old white collar thug Brian Marsack risks being sent up the river for ripping off the elderly of their life savings.  His response?  "They were old and didn't need the money anyway."  Like Madoff, I guess he was a better financial planner - he was planning for his retirement more responsibly.
It's a sad start to a New Year but one that always brings me back to fine Italy.  Here (and everywhere, I imagine) it is a national sport for faux utilities personnel to get into the homes of the elderly and rob them blind after stunning them or knocking them out with chloroform of some sort.  Others prey on seniors by pretending to know them or their offspring, and then happily escort them to a bank machine for money their relative purportedly needs.  
Recently, two Neapolitan criminals received 15 years in jail each for killing an elderly American tourist just for his Rolex--the man had simply set out to visit the city from a cruise ship nearby.  We are constantly hearing reports of people being pulled to their deaths for their purses or necklaces in street crimes by fast-moving criminals (often on scooters).  And although a friend of my great aunt's once grabbed the necklace off the man who had grabbed hers -- he got a fake gold necklace, she ended up with the real thing -- these stories usually don't have such happy endings.
Luckily, many elderly are growing more and more aware of the perils of these sorts due to outing the scams on TV shows.  But sadly, like the family featured in the Detroit article, many of them get ripped off by the people they know best.  In fact, the article goes on to state that:  

"A 2009 study by MetLife says seniors are cheated out of $2.6 billion each year, and the perpetrator is likely to be a relative or caregiver.
The study estimates that for every case that's found, there are likely four more cases that went undetected."
The article offers a few pointers for seniors such as: Do not give information such as Social Security numbers and bank account information over the phone and Be wary of charities asking for money, even if they sound legitimate.  I would add a few of my own:  ignore letters or emails saying you've won money, seek advice on business deals - even if thru a good friend or relative, and never open the door to strangers.  
Wherever you may live.  As the saying goes, the whole world is just a village.


Irreverent Italy said...

another great post on caregivers is here:

HarmCo said...

Great article -- thanks!