Lawsuit Could Represent “Huge” Step in Fight Against Elder Fraud


A lawsuit filed by a California woman could be a “wake up call” for financial scammers who target seniors, according to an elder abuse group.

The civil lawsuit was filed by Lois Brown, who says an insurance agent misled her into buying annuities she wasn’t qualified for.

Brown’s situation, if true, isn’t unique; unethical insurance agents can often target elderly people with money and sign them up for programs that don’t actually exist. The insurance agents collect commissions and fees. Meanwhile, the elderly person is signed up for a program they don’t want.

More on the lawsuit:

According to the lawsuit, Mike Read, a licensed insurance agent, convinced Brown to buy annuities under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Aid and Attendance program, which helps low-income vets and their spouses. Brown wasn’t qualified for the program because she’s financially well off and the annuities weren’t part of the AA program, Shernoff said.

By purchasing annuities, Brown’s money is stored away and dispersed in small amounts. But the lawsuit claims she was unaware she was purchasing them and she thought she was signing up for a VA program.

One consumer advocacy group is calling this lawsuit a “huge” step toward protecting seniors. That’s because elderly victims of financial exploitation often don’t bring cases to court – the process is too much.

From the Desert Sun:

A Rancho Mirage woman’s civil lawsuit citing fraud and elder abuse could be a “huge” step toward protecting senior citizens from potential financial scams, a consumer advocacy group says.


Rarely do victims of elder abuse pursue litigation against suspected scammers, said Prescott Cole, senior staff attorney for the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform in San Francisco.

“Real elder abuse is bringing a senior to court. They can’t handle it, they don’t want it,” he said. “This will send a wake-up call … if this lawsuit is successful.”

The defendants are both denying that they ever even met, let alone did business with, Lois Brown.

The case goes to trial on Sep. 8.


Photo by  Brian Talbot via Flickr CC License

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