They’re calling it Ocean’s 64, the Old Man Heist, and dubbing them “Dad’s Army.”
On Easter weekend this year, a three-day banking holiday, nine thieves made off with one of the largest heists in Britain’s history. In a scene some are comparing to the movie The Italian Job, 73 empty safe deposit boxes were found in the vault at London’s Hatton Garden Safe Deposit. Their missing contents were jewels, gold, and diamonds worth about £200 million ($300 million).
Eight out of the 10 men arrested on suspicion of robbery were in court on May 19 and much was made of their ages — which combined is just shy of 500 years. The oldest of the defendants complained that they had trouble hearing what the judge was saying. Another, it’s been reported, limped so badly that prison guards had to help him to his seat.
I always said 80 is the perfect age to conduct a heist, but these men were no beginners. In fact, in the case of oldest suspect, 76-year-old Brian Reader of Dartmoor, Kent, it was a chance to make the heist into a family business, as son and fellow suspect , 50-year-old Paul Reader was supposedly part of the crew.
DAD'S ARMY': THE CHARGED MEN, AGED BETWEEN 48 TO 76
- Hugh Doyle, 48
- Paul Reader, 50
- Daniel Jones, 58
- Carl Wood, 58
- William Lincoln, 59
- Terry Perkins, 67
- John Collins, 74
- Brian Reader, 76
There’s no doubt it was a professional job, and The Mirror aptly nicknamed the thieves suitably cinematic names — Mr Ginger, Mr Strong, Mr Montana, The Gent, The Tall Man, Moped Man and The Old Man. The job was incredibly intricate and physically challenging. London's metropolitan police released pictures of the scene.
After the thieves entered a side door dressed as workers, disabled an elevator and rappelled down the shaft, while carrying an incredibly heavy and powerful Hilti DD-350 diamond coring drill to get through the vault and at the safety deposit boxes.
While we at Caregiverlist certainly don’t condone unlawful behavior at any age, after reading about so many senior scams and the variety of frauds perpetrated against the elderly, it sure is interesting to see the tables turn and read about some older gentlemen who continue to “work” beyond retirement.
We at Caregiverlist bring this up every year: the elderly and their loved ones need to be extra cautious of holiday scam artists. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that up to 80 percent of scam victims are over 65.
According to the National Council on Aging, here are some of the more common holiday scams targeted to seniors:
According to the Better Business Bureau, Medicare scammers ask for personal information such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers and promise in return free products and services to be paid for by Medicare and Medicaid. In October of this year, CBS MoneyWatch reported that the FTC shut down a scam in which millions of dollars were allegedly stolen from older Americans by callers who claimed to be working on behalf of Medicare. Those who gave their information saw hundreds of dollars in bank account withdrawals.
Beware the Nigerian Prince
Most seniors don’t have extensive experience with the internet and email, making them perfect targets for online scams. Oftentimes, there is a promise of lottery winnings or release of funds if the winner just pays an upfront fees. Scam artists collect bank routing and account numbers and, of course, the senior never sees dime one.
Dearly Departed Debt
In an especially onious scam, victims are found through obituaries. Victims are recent widows or widowers who are contacted and told that their deceased spouse had left behind thousands of dollars in debt. Usually flush with recent insurance money, the victim will seek to resolve the debt rather than face “financial ruin, eviction, and public disgrace.”
The Old “Grandparent Scam”
The Grandparent Scam is nothing new but the over the holidays, when many college kids find themselves back home over winter break, grandparents can find themselves on the receiving end of a disquieting call. “Often, the scammer will pose as a grandchild in college and tell the grandparent that they are in legal trouble or even physical danger,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote in a letter to colleges and universities across the state. “They will ask the unsuspecting grandparent to wire money immediately and, as a means of avoiding detection, ask the victim not to tell other family members about the situation.”
Why are the Elderly More Vulnerable to Fraud?
It may be that the part of the brain that detects suspicious looks and behavior becomes less active as we age. A study done by professors at UCLA has found that the area of the brain called the anterior insula diminishes the older we get, and “untrustworthy” faces can’t be distinguished from the trustworthy. Also, social neuroscientist Shelley Taylor of the University of California, Los Angeles, asserts that “Older people are good at regulating their emotions, seeing things in a positive light, and not overreacting to everyday problems.” However, this trait may make them less wary and more susceptible to scams.
So have that talk with your senior loved one or client and make them aware that, especially at this time of year, they can easily fall victim to fraud. If you or a senior you know has been the victim of a scam or fraud, report it to your local police department and Department on Aging. You may help prevent others from becoming victims as well.
Elder abuse can take many forms. Caregiverlist’s own basic caregiver training helps caregivers recognize abuse and neglect, and learn the legal requirements for reporting physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse.
Financial abuse of the elderly is a racket that takes in nearly $3 billion dollars every year and that figure rises annually. Because seniors are especially susceptible to scams and frauds, the the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently launched the Elder Justice website.
At an outreach event earlier this week, Associate Attorney General Tony West stated, “The launch of the Elder Justice website today marks another milestone in reaching our shared goal of keeping older Americans safe from abuse and neglect.” He added, “The more we embrace our elders with respect and care, the stronger our society will be. This tool helps move us closer to that goal.”
The Elder Justice website will serve as a resource victims of elder abuse and their families, who often feel alone, embarrassed, and unsure of where to turn for help. Prosecutors, researchers, and professional practitioners who work with elder abuse will find a forum to share information and resources to fight elder abuse, scams, and financial exploitation in an effort to support older adults.
Nearly one in every 10 Americans over age 60 experience abuse and neglect, and those with dementia are at higher risk for abuse. Most (51%) of elderly fraud is perpetrated by strangers, although abuse by family, friends, and neighbors comes in second at 34%. Elder mistreatment by a known individual is especially prevalent because seniors are vulnerable and trusting in relationships with their families and caregivers.
There are two steps the DOJ along with the Department of Health and Human Services suggest communities, families, and individuals take in combating the epidemic of senior abuse:
- Learn the signs of elder abuse. Take a look at the Red Flags of Abuse Factsheet, provided by the National Center on Elder Abuse, that lists the signs of and risk factors for abuse and neglect.
- Report suspected abuse when you see it. Contact your local adult protective services agency. And, of course, make use of the new Elder Justice website.
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