Elder abuse tarnishes senior's golden years

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Jul 06 2014 01:32:00 PM HST

Experts on the front lines of protecting Hawaii's elders are expecting scams aimed at the elderly to increase in the islands.

HONOLULU -

The many different forms of elder abuse can tarnish the golden years of seniors.

Click here to watch Paul Drewes' report.

One frontline expert now expects Hawaii's growing elder abuse problem to turn into an epidemic.

Island pawn shops are being used by more than just those who need a little extra cash to cover their monthly bills.

"Seniors are coming into pawn shops and selling their wedding rings and jade jewelry to pay the money to someone in Nigeria because they won the lottery," said Scott Spallina, with the Elder Abuse Justice Unit.

Fake lottery and sweepstakes top the list of scams targeting Hawaii's seniors.
They are just some of the many designed by criminals to cash in on the vulnerability, trust or loneliness of our elderly.
The scams are nothing new, but what has changed is the number of elder abuse cases.

"They're dramatically going up," stated Spallina.

In the past six years, the prosecutors office has seen a 300 percent increase in reported crimes, including rising numbers for financial, property and violent crimes.
It is believed that many other times, the crimes are not reported.

"The elder is scared to report. For one reason they fear retaliation when it comes to violent crime. For financial crimes, there is a great sense of embarrassment. There is a great sense of shame," added Spallina.

As bad as things are now, he said it will only get worse.
Because of Hawaii's growing aging population making for easy prey by criminals,
Spallina feels this crime wave of elder abuse will become a tsunami directed at our seniors.

"Our crime justice division and our court system is not prepared for it. We don't have enough resources and we are going to be inundated with handling the financial abuse of seniors."

Criminals and their money-making schemes are becoming more complex and can appear authentic even to some experts, but con artists aren't the only ones taking advantage of our seniors. Caregivers and even family members are also abusing Hawaii's elderly residents.

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