California’s seniors lost an estimated $10.9 billion to fraud in 2020 – Times-Herald

The relationship began on an online dating site. He was fascinated by Katsumi Iwasaki, a U.S. soldier stationed in Damascus, Syria. “Sweet things” started to be emailed quickly, Iwasaki said.

The 22-year-old San Francisco man lived alone after his 22-year-old partner died of lung cancer, and the relationship that was formed “made me feel like I had a prosperous future.” After a few months of correspondence in late 2016, the person said his name was “James Lopez,” citing gold – worth a million dollars. Lopez needed the money to send a repository from Syria to San Francisco, he said.

“I was lonely and looking for a friend, and I think I trusted what James said,” said Iwasaki, who began wiring the growing parts of his retirement savings to Lopez, even though he never met the couple. Iwasaki promised that the person who said he was Lopez would distribute the gold during his visit to San Francisco, but neither the gold nor Lopez did.

Cases of financial fraud against seniors like Iwasaki have been growing slowly since 2016, but when the pandemic blockade measures the isolation of seniors over 65 from relatives and friends, losses from elder fraud increased by 30% nationwide in 2020, according to one. Report of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“We call that the perfect storm,” said Glen Fishman, of the San Francisco Aging Elderly Abuse Prevention Program, who has seen “significant growth” in elder abuse.

According to Comparitech, one in 10 seniors suffers from fraud and most never recover their losses. Instead, they are left with savings in their golden age. The rise in fraud is due to the fact that one in three seniors in California does not have the money to meet basic needs, they said. UC Berkeley Employment Center.

Scams range from simple to sophisticated. Aimed at retirement savings, isolation, and age-related cognitive decline, seniors are being bullied and removed from their savings, called by Social Security or Medicare employees to call for private information, and criminals are being deceived by criminals. the elderly grandson who needs money fast.

For Iwasaki, the relationship began with a few months of emailing, sometimes 18 times a day. Then the next year, “James Lopez” convinced Iwasaki to work with a law firm in San Francisco to work with the $ 400,000 he had carefully saved for nearly two decades – at least 30 transfers.

“I was in love and hypnotized,” Iwasaki said as he went to his local bank, Citibank, to wire funds.

Citibank did not answer specific questions about Iwasaki’s case. A spokesman for the bank said in an email that the matter was being investigated and wrote: “We have seen more and more scams from roboids to internet and email scams and we are committed to doing our part to protect the most vulnerable in our society. From financial fraud.”

State regulations require bank employees to allegedly defraud customers with their Adult Protection Services or to enforce the law. ATMs are the first line of defense for elderly isolates because they are familiar with customer spending patterns and can detect unusual behavior, such as large wire transfers. According to the U.S. Office of Financial Protection.

There is little data on the alleged frequency of fraud by banks.

When he made his first electronic transfer, Iwasaki recalls that he asked the bank teller if he was sure he was sending the money. he said. It was the only time he remembered asking anyone in the bank. However, a subsequent transfer of $ 15,000 was frozen – although it is not clear why – Iwasaki said in a statement to San Francisco police in December 2016 that he believed he was cheating. Police said they had investigated and referred the case to another jurisdiction in the Central West, where they believed the fraud had taken place. But then Lopez reassured Iwasaki, re-established the network and took more savings from his account.

senior workshop
Jenny Pardini, Community Education Coordinator for Legal Aid for the Elderly, is giving a workshop on health care advance directives on April 12, 2022 at the LARPD Senior Services Center in Livermore (Photo: Dai Sugano / Bay Area News Group)

Kathryn Stebner, a San Francisco-based law firm specializing in elder abuse law, has sued the bank for stopping elder fraud. But lawyers who are willing to go head-to-head with massive financial institutions are rare, Stebner said.

Those who work with the victims in the bay say some have to retire, move in search of cheaper housing, or end up on the streets.

But as victims are often embarrassed to fall for fraud, to worry about losing their independence, or to remain unaware of fraud, only one in 24 cases is reported, according to one. Cornell University Study.

“Without a victim complaint, we don’t know where to start looking,” said Jenny Pardini, Alameda County Legal Aid Education Coordinator.

Even though Iwasaki’s wire transfers were very irregular to him, he doesn’t remember his bank, Citibank, law enforcement or Adult Protection Services contacting him. In retrospect, there would have been more communication.

After two years without an update on gold, Iwasaki’s previous suspicions were fully confirmed. But “even after I somehow found out,” Iwasaki said, “I couldn’t stop thinking about him.”

Iwasaki visited San Francisco police again in late 2017 to report the fraud. Two years later, in January 2020, a Georgian federal grand jury indicted Thomas Addaquay and Clara Karabani on 14 felony counts, including money laundering, wire fraud, bank fraud and bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The indictment alleges that both of them committed fraud in love in 2016 and 2017, using fake names, photographs and elaborate fake stories to steal victims. The total amount of money involved is unknown. Iwasaki has been identified as a victim in the case, according to a letter sent to Iwasaki by the Justice Department.

Addaquay’s lawyer, Rodney Williams, said Addaquay denies using a fake dating profile under the name James Lopez to “cheat a senior’s money.” A lawyer for Clara Karabani did not respond to a request. Both are awaiting trial.

Iwasaki ended his correspondence with Lopez At the end of 2017. But by then, his savings were gone. The landlord gave him a temporary break from renting. Iwasaki’s brother sent $ 20,000. He earned food stamps and survives on his social security income.

Restricted to a small fixed income for years to come, the Caribbean cruise that dreamed of retirement will probably never happen. “There’s no way I’m going to have so much fun in my life anymore,” Iwasaki said.

But what hurt the most, he said, was “playing with my heart.”

elderly citizen
Katsumi Iwasaki of San Francisco, who was deprived of $ 400,000 in retirement savings due to a love scam, took a portrait inside her home on April 13, 2022, in San Francisco, California (Photo: Dai Sugano / Bay Area News Group)

California’s seniors lost an estimated $10.9 billion to fraud in 2020 – Times-Herald Source link California’s seniors lost an estimated $10.9 billion to fraud in 2020 – Times-Herald

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