Vancouver Foundation

Fall 2013

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BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support Hello, Grandma? These two words could cost you your life savings by paul heraty Actor Mickey Rooney, philanthropist Brooke Astor and an 87-year-old grandmother from Burnaby (let's call her "Barbara") share an embarrassing and expensive secret. They are all elderly victims of financial abuse – Rooney and Astor by a family member, and Barbara by a complete stranger. Rooney's stepson allegedly took control of Rooney's money and forced him to live in poverty. Astor's son tried to take control of her immense fortune after she developed Alzheimer's disease. And Barbara lost her life savings in what is being called the "grandparents scam." Barbara lives at a seniors' residence in Burnaby. Early in 2012, the residence was targeted by a group of scammers. They made a series of phone calls to the facility and, unfortunately, got through to Barbara. page 24 I Vancouver Foundation l Fall 2013 p24-25 Elder Abuse.indd 24 They used what has become a well-known trick to get seniors to send money. They told her it was her "grandson" calling, that he was in Montreal and needed money desperately. He'd been arrested for drunk driving – but didn't want his parents to find out. Barbara, eager to help, quickly sent the cash he requested. The calls kept coming. The "grandson" needed money for a lawyer, then car repairs, then more money to pay a fine. Each time, Barbara went to the nearby bank and withdrew money from her savings to send to her "grandson," believing that she was helping him. When she'd drained her savings account, her bank gave the elderly woman a line of credit, which she used to send even more money to the scammers. Photo: istock 13-10-11 1:35 PM

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