Senior citizens increasingly are being victimized by desperate people looking for soft targets in Michigan's hard economy, reports the Detroit News. Fraud and violence against the elderly are on the rise throughout the Detroit area, say law enforcement and advocates for senior citizens. “It's stunning, the level of violence we are beginning to see,” said Thomas Wenzel, principal Wayne County prosecutor for elder abuse.
When seniors suffer physical, emotional and financial abuse, it’s usually at the hands of relative caregivers. Officials say they have seen a recent rise in violence and financial fraud against the elderly by strangers and others who won their trust.
Prosecution of violent crimes against the elderly rose 75 percent last year in Macomb County. Overall crimes involving senior victims spiked 42 percent in Oakland County. In Wayne County, prosecutors say the numbers haven’t risen, but the level of brutality involved in the crimes has. A dangerous stereotype — that the elderly are weak, easily confused and distrusting of banks during hard times — is leading desperate people to believe they might be easy marks for scams, strong arm robbery and worse. “I think people are getting desperate for money. It’s amazing and scary,” said Suzanne Faunce, chief prosecutor of crimes against the elderly in Macomb County.