Financial Exploitation or Abuse
"Be wary of the Befriender"
Webster’s Dictionary defines befriend as “to act as a friend to”.
When I originally started this website, I was working with elderly victims of financial exploitation. However, this advice is useful for adults of any age. - Claire Cooper Black (Former Banker of 30 Plus Years)
If you are concerned that your parent/parents or an elderly relative are being financially exploited, you need to read this article and our additional web page Articles of Interest. Financial Crimes Against the Elderly are on the rise and according to government statistics these crimes are under reported and rarely prosecuted.
Life can be tough enough without someone trying to scam or con you out of your hard earned money. Unfortunately, that is how some people make a living. There are numerous scams targeted towards those that are retired or living alone. Most of these scams are handled over the phone or the internet. A few are in person, such as the Travelers, who do home repairs.
Several of the scams or frauds which are currently listed by the FBI are:
Health Insurance Fraud
Counterfeit Prescription Drugs
Funeral and Cemetery Fraud
Fraudulent “Anti-Aging” Products
Home Repair Travelers
However, there are more personal frauds which are committed but which we hear little about. These frauds are what we call the “Befriending Fraud” or the “Love Interest Fraud”.
These exploitations target the elderly or those who live alone without a spouse or other relatives. Usually the targeted victims own their own home and may have modest to substantial investments or retirement accounts. This is the actual target of the confidence artist’s interest. They are after your assets.
The “Befriending or Love Interest Fraud” becomes a close and trusted friend of their victims.
The Con Artist may target someone who does not have any family members living in the immediate area. This allows the con artist to become closer to the victim by being available when their victim is in need.
The Con Artist may be someone who has only lived in the area for a short while, or may have lived there all of their lives.
The Con Artist may have a full time job or no visible means of income.
The Con Artist may be several years younger than their intended victim.
The Con Artist will probably be of the opposite sex of their victim.
The Con Artist targets where seniors may congregate such as Bereavement Groups, Senior Citizen Centers and Church gatherings to name a few. They usually fain religious beliefs.
This person will become your closest ally and will be more than willing to help you with your personal affairs.
Now not everyone younger than you is trying to con you out of your life savings. But we would like to warn you of some “Red Flags” that should get your guard up.
1. A big #1 is they start asking you about your financial information (not only is this rude, but it’s none
of their business).
a. They will inquire as to which local banks you are using.
b. Are your social security or benefit checks being directly deposited to your checking account at
2. Do you have a will?
3. What illnesses do you have?
4. How much life insurance do you carry?
5. Is your house in your name only?
6. Is your car title in your name only?
7. Are you invested in the stock market?
The con artist will extract this information from you in very subtle ways, usually in day to day conversations over an extended period of time. Or they may rifle through your mail. As time goes on and they have gained your friendship or proclaimed their love and devotion to you, they will start asking for proof of a reciprocal friendship or affection. At this point they will start suggesting either subtly or more directly that you:
1. Add them to your checking account so that they may cash checks for you on your behalf to save you
a trip to the bank.
2. Or so they may assist you with paying your monthly bills. They may volunteer to unburden you with
that monthly task.
3. They may request a Power of Attorney so that if you become incapacitated they can continue to take
care of your business for you. We advise that before you give any new person in your life your
Power of Attorney that you consult with your attorney and family members.
4. They may want to see a copy of your will and your deed of trust on your home.
5. They won’t want you to mention any of these requests to your family members. They will suggest
that your family members wouldn’t understand your relationship or obviously don’t care since
they don’t call or see you as often as they should.
6. They will try to cut off communications with your family members.
7. They may request to move in with you to care for you and for your added security.
The biggest “Red Flag”is when your new best friend or love interest asks you to sign anything financially related. Do not sign anything without consulting your family members and your attorney. Consider having this person checked out by a professional licensed investigator. Many of these people will have a criminal background record or may have been involved in previous litigation.
By spending a nominal fee with Lone Pine Investigations, a investigations company with prior financial industry experience, you can save yourself money, time, emotional stress and embarrassment. You may even save another from the same scam by bringing this person to the attention of authorities such as your local Department of Family and Protective Services-Adult Protective Service Division.
I know that it’s unfortunate that we have to Be Wary of the Befriender, but it’s your money not theirs!
For more information regarding crimes of this nature, please see the article written by Lee Hancock of the Dallas Morning News, "Mary Ellen's Will - The Battle for 4949 Swiss Avenue."
Ms. Hancock's article on "The Battle for 4949 Swiss Avenue" was featured on ABC's 20/20 on December 11, 2009, "Mary Ellen's Mansion: Friendly Care - or Con?" with John Quinones. (Please click "Watch on YouTube)
Other ABC's 20/20 links:
and more recently our page - Articles of Interest (available by clicking on the link at the top of this page).
Please visit these web links to read and view more regarding Financial Exploitation.
Licensed by TxDPS-PSB #A12025