Mary Coomey, 82, of Colorado had her $500,000 life savings stolen by two friends, says the Denver Post. Last year, county agencies in Colorado took more than 5,000 reports that elderly or disabled adults were being neglected, exploited, or abused by others. Such reports to adult-protection agencies jumped 12 percent in a year. “It’s far more frequent than people know,” said Joanne Otto of the National Adult Protective Services Association in Boulder. Last year, adult-protection programs nationwide “received more than 600,000 reports,” she said, and “it’s estimated that only one in seven cases is reported.”
In Colorado, many elderly victims have been swindled by con artists who specialize in lottery or home-repair scams. In most cases that reach criminal courts, the accused perpetrator is no stranger. The worst abuses typically are committed by relatives or friends who take over a vulnerable adult’s life and then take everything they own. Some victims lose their life savings to anonymous cellphone callers claiming they have just won a foreign lottery. The callers persuade the victims to send more and more money for taxes or processing fees to collect their winnings.