By James Limbach
April 20. 2010
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray has launched an effort to strengthen local protection for senior citizens. Joining forces with officials from the National Association of Triads, Inc. (NATI), Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association (BSSA), Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), Ohio Crime Prevention Association (OCPA) and Ohio Department of Aging (ODA), Cordray called upon local agencies to partner with seniors and activate Triads.
"In 2009, Ohio saw an increase in reported cases involving the exploitation of our seniors," said Cordray. "Many more Ohioans over the age of 60 fell victim to scams and abuse than in the previous year. We expect the numbers to continue to climb as baby boomers get older."
The AG pointed out that with limited law enforcement resources, it is absolutely critical that forces are combined to maximize protection. He called on community organizations, law enforcement and senior citizens to work together to strengthen prevention and response.
According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, 16,370 incidents of abuse, neglect and exploitation of consumers over the age of 60 were reported in 2009, compared with 15,050 incidents reported in 2008. The incidents range from financial crimes to physical abuse and were reported in every region of the state.
"While the numbers of reported incidents are indeed climbing, by applying national estimates we know that only one in five elder abuse situations in Ohio are reported to authorities," said Cordray. "We also estimate that only 1 of 25 financial crimes against seniors are reported. These numbers are unacceptable"
Ohio, of course, isn't the only state where seniors are targeted by scammers. ConsumerAffairs.com receives complaints from coast-to-coast.
Amy of Ventura, CA, tells of a problem her grandmother with a reverse mortgage held by Bank of America. "We had looked into refinancing the loan to get it FHA insured. B of A had scammed my 91 year old grandmother into accepting a Jumbo loan that was not backed by FHA insurance and held the loan had an extremely high interest rate."
She claims that as soon as negotiations began with another company, B of A gave the case and all the documentation to "some unauthorized, unknown broker who didn't even have a legitimate phone number. There were no signed documents and no authorization for them to give the case to anyone at that point. Needless to say, there was a domino effect that has cost us thousands of dollars, delays, stress and aggravation."
Duane of Melville, NY, has a problem with Somerset Mortgage Lenders. "They give out false confirmation numbers, they send out pre-application without disclosures, they sell reverse mortgages to seniors without explaining the program in detail," he tells ConsumerAffairs.com. "They also send out just signature pages to seniors without disclosures and they send the borrower's copy one to two weeks later. They arrange HUD counseling by acting as family members. They stall and manipulate borrowers until they are desperate and have no other recourse."
To help older citizens in Ohio combat fraud, Cordray has signed a cooperative agreement that unites the partnering agencies in a statewide effort to mobilize community resources to recognize the needs of older citizens and to work to meet those needs.
"We are very pleased to have Ohio join this important national effort," said Edward Hutchison, Executive Director of the National Association of Triads. "As law enforcement budgets tighten across the country, Triads have become increasingly imperative to protecting seniors and reducing the fear of crime that they often experience."
Ohio is the 10th state to join with a statewide program.