Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

News Release

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Contact

Lyn Peters, Director of Communications
PH (360) 902-8731, lyn.peters@dfi.wa.gov

Bill Beatty, DFI Director of Securities
PH 360.902.8723, bbeatty@dfi.wa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:


DFI Joins Nationwide Elder Investment Fraud And Financial Exploitation Prevention Program To Better Protect WA Residents

New effort focuses on early detection before elderly are separated from their life’s savings

Olympia – The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) is pleased to announce is taking part in a groundbreaking new “Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program” that will work with medical professionals in Washington to detect cases in which older state residents either are being scammed or are in danger of being ripped-off by an investment con artist.

The “Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program” is a collaboration between the Investor Protection Trust (IPT), Investor Protection Institute (IPI), the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) in cooperation with leading U.S. medical associations including the American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Physicians, American Geriatrics Society, National Area Health Education Center Organization, and the National Association of Geriatric Education Centers. This program was created by the Baylor College of Medicine with grant funding from the Investor Protection Trust and piloted in the state of Texas.

“When it comes to protecting older investors, it’s crucial to take action before the money is gone,” DFI Director of Securities Bill Beatty said. “DFI is joining the ‘Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program’ because it provides us new tools to tap into medical professionals who are working directly with the elderly and can be taught the warning signs of investment scams. Through this program, we hope to get better information earlier and do more to shut down scams sooner than later.”

“We now know that a shockingly large number of older Americans are already victims of financial swindles and millions more are in danger of being exploited in such a fashion,” IPT President and CEO Don Blandin said. “Given that front-line medical professionals who deal every day with older Americans are ideally positioned to spot the impaired mental capacity that can leave seniors vulnerable to investment fraud, our new program seeks to inform doctors, nurses and others about the warning signs of elder investment fraud and financial exploitation.”

The “Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program” will educate the large number of medical professionals in Washington who see older people in their practices about how to spot older Americans who may be particularly vulnerable to financial abuse and then to refer suspected investment fraud involving these at-risk patients to state securities regulators and/or to local Adult Protective Services (APS) professionals.

State securities regulators and participating medical professionals now have available the project’s Clinician’s Pocket Guide and an informational brochure for patients/investors. The pocket guide – which outlines common red flags, how to ask about a patient’s financial capacity and what types of referral may be needed – can be used to train medical staff, as well as functioning as a handy reference card. The brochure tells how to protect against elder investment fraud and where to get help.

Medical professionals with questions about the new initiative by DFI should contact Lyn Peters, Director of Communications, Financial Education & Outreach, at 360.902.8731 or lyn.peters@dfi.wa.gov.

Background: The Elderly And Investment Fraud

Senior citizens have long been the target of unscrupulous investment scam artists. This is especially true of seniors who have mild cognitive impairment (MCI). According to the 2010 Investor Protection Elder Fraud Survey released in June, 7.3 million older Americans – one out of every five citizens over the age of 65 – already have been victimized by a financial swindle. The IPT survey also found that half of older Americans exhibit one or more of the warning signs of current financial victimization. For example, more than one out three seniors (37 percent) are currently being pitched by “people (who) are calling me or mailing me asking for money, lotteries, and other schemes,” while a much lower 19 percent of adult children believe that their parents are being pressured in such a fashion.

Of particular concern are seniors with mild cognitive impairment who can perform most daily functions, but have trouble or become confused with others, like following their medicine regimen and managing their finances. A 2008 Duke University study found that about 35 percent of the 25 million people over age 71 in the U.S. either have mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. This makes them especially vulnerable to financial exploitation, including investment fraud.

Editor's Note: A related phone-based news conference to announce participating states took place Nov. 17, 2010. A streaming audio recording of the news event is available on the Web at http://www.investorprotection.org.


About DFI
www.dfi.wa.gov ▪ 360.902.8700 ▪ 877.RINGDFI (746.4334)
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions regulates a variety of financial service providers such as banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers, consumer loan companies, payday lenders and securities brokers and dealers. The department also works to improve financial education throughout Washington through its outreach programs and online clearinghouse www.dfi.wa.gov/financial-education. In addition to posting information about licensees and administrative actions, DFI uses the Web and social media to provide financial education information:
www.twitter.com/FinEd4Allwww.twitter.com/DFIConsumersfinlit.blogspot.comwww.youtube.com/user/WADFIwww.homeownership.wa.gov

About Division of Securities
www.dfi.wa.gov/sd ▪ 360.902.8760 ▪ 877.RINGDFI (746.4334)
The Division of Securities regulates securities investments, franchises, business opportunities, and off-exchange commodities sold in Washington and the firms and individuals that sell these products or provide investment advice. The Division handles complaints, conducts investigations, and takes appropriate enforcement actions to protect investors and combat fraud.

The Investor Protection Trust
http://www.investorprotection.org
The Investor Protection Trust is a nonprofit organization devoted to investor education. The primary mission of IPT is to provide independent, objective information needed by consumers to make informed investment decisions. Founded in 1993 as part of a multi-state settlement to resolve charges of misconduct, IPT serves as an independent source of unbiased and non-commercial investor education materials. IPT operates programs under its own auspices and uses grants to underwrite important investor education and protection initiatives carried out by other organizations. The IPT provides investor education at both the state and national levels. Contact Patrick Mitchell, for IPT, 703.276.3266 or pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com.

The Investor Protection Institute
http://www.protectinvestors.org
The Investor Protection Institute is a nonprofit organization that promotes investor protection by conducting and supporting research and education programs.

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