Dementia patients and geriatric elderly getting scammed

Geriatric patients and elderly people with dementia are extremely susceptible to being taken advantage of. Over the past year there has been a surge of scammers who drain their entire bank accounts over the course of months by sucking them into a variety of scams. Geriatric patients and elderly patients with dementia are lacking some of the insight and reasoning abilities that the normal person has which is why they are especially targeted by these scam artists.

This month I helped a family who had been scammed out of close to a million dollars due to their father with dementia had been sending thousands of dollars to the scammers for almost a year until the family became aware.

So how does the scam work to trick the elderly dementia and geriatric patients? The latest scam originates from foreign countries and follows a “winning” prize claim ticket in the mail that someone receives. They get sucked into believing they have won a large sum of money, however one of the stipulations is that in order to claim the money, they need to send several thousands of dollars to them in order to “release the funds” from being held owing taxes. The dementia patients get lured by the allure of feeling savvy, productive and important again as so many of people at that age suffer from a lack of self-worth and feeling useless. Their lack of insight and poor judgment from the dementia than causes them to get sucked in even though it seems rather obvious to someone that this is a scam.

Eventually they get your bank account number, personal information and by the time you know it, some of these elderly geriatric dementia patients are running around town to various banks, wiring money to these scam artists, all for the promise of a big “50 million dollar” winning prize.

Although it is somewhat comical, the fact is it is very sad as the impact on families is extremely  damaging and some people lose their life savings. It is crucial to act with a family and get a guardianship in place legally to protect a loved one with dementia if you notice any risk of them participating in any type of questionable financial venture.

Michael Yasinski MD