Understanding the Risks of Financial Scams as Part of Elder Abuse Prevention
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Journal: British Journal of Social Work
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved. Financial scams have been described as the crime of the twenty-first century, representing a global challenge for agencies involved in the protection of older people at risk of financial abuse. Financial abuse is the second most common form of adult abuse, but traditionally research has focused on abuse that occurs within relationships of trust within families. Less is known about financial scams perpetrated by individuals or organisations unknown to the individual, and which specifically target older people. In part, this is because financial scams are often underreported, as victims can be reluctant to disclose their experience, posing challenges to those who have a safeguarding role. This paper discusses factors emerging from the literature that act as triggers for scam involvement. These include loneliness, emotional vulnerability linked to life events, cognitive impairment and mental capacity. The findings of a small exploratory qualitative study with older people and their carers (n = 12) who have experienced financial scams will be discussed in relation to the literature. These provide unique insights into the experience of being scammed and the impact on individual health and well-being. Key themes will be discussed in relation to social work practice and integrated working across health and social care.