Financial abuse of the elderly in The Bahamas could amount to almost $2 million, Forensic Accountant and Managing Partner of UHY Bain and Associates John Bain said yesterday, adding though that there is not much data on this kind of abuse available.
Bain, who was speaking to a group of elderly citizens at a workshop put on by the Department of Social Services at Grace Community Church, lamented that The Bahamas’ data pool on this kind of abuse is essentially non-existent, but he quantified the problem in The Bahamas based on the United States’ assumption that the financial abuse of its elderly could exact a financial toll of $143 million annually.
According to Bain, the elderly in The Bahamas are targeted because they are seen as easily manipulated to part with their money. He said the perpetrators are often the elderly person’s own family members.
“In every country they go after older people,” he said.
“Our population needs to realize the importance of protecting our seniors and their families against scams, so that seniors can live an independent and secure life.
“The problem is the people going after your money is usually your family, your loved ones.
“Abusers are more likely to be male, there are female too, but more likely to be male, an adult child or a spouse, sometimes they have a history of mental or physical health issues, sometimes they display signs of major stress, sometimes they are socially isolated, they may have had some problems with the law before, sometimes they drink and abuse substances and drugs, many times they are unemployed and many times they have financial problems due to gambling.”
Bain said he was also surprised to find out how many women in The Bahamas are involved in defrauding the elderly.
He insisted that if any elderly person thinks they have been a victim of fraud, they should reach out to financial experts, law enforcement and social services as soon as possible.
Bain said he has seen an increase in financial abuse of the elderly through the forging of wills and through internet fraud.