Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to financial crimes against the elderly, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

General Responses
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Creating multiagency task forces Provides a range of expertise in critical areas …formed as a collaborative partnership between public, private, and nonprofit agencies As a stand-alone strategy, not likely to directly impact the scope or level of the problem
2 Working across jurisdictions Creates the ability to build cases against highly mobile offenders; incorporates expertise in areas of co-occurring crimes …created through formal interagency agreements with clear and specific protocols for line-level officers Relationships require maintenance; need clear indications of the lead agency in specific cases; potential for "turf" issues to reduce efficacy
3 Improving reporting mechanisms Improves the quality of the data available to assess the scope of the local problem; creates the ability to provide services to avoid repeat victimization …clear directions for reporting are widely publicized; specific protocols for agency cross-reporting are developed Rate of reported crimes will increase; potential for one agency to interfere with the activities of another working the same case
4 Training police to interview elderly victims of financial crimes Increases the quality of investigations; increases sensitivity to victims' needs …ongoing training is available; barriers to accessing information held by other agencies are removed up front Requires long-term commitment to training; requires obtaining access to information that is traditionally not quickly available to police
5 Decreasing victims' isolation Improves the ability to support and monitor financial decisions by at-risk seniors; improves the chances of early detection …contact is ongoing and in person; contacts are knowledgeable about warning signs Requires long-term commitment
Specific Responses: Fraud
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
6 Educating seniors and other concerned parties Makes it more difficult for frauds to succeed …the curriculum includes specific strategies for identifying frauds as they are occurring, and techniques for ending unwanted interactions Difficult to access seniors who are isolated, are disabled, or have diminished mental capacity (high-risk groups); requires practice and ongoing compliance from the recipient
7 Identifying high-risk seniors Decreases the likelihood of repeat victimization …services include individualized attention to high-risk behaviors Individualized nature of the intervention can be time- and cost-intensive
8 Reversing the "boiler room" Effectively identifies those likely to be open to fraudulent sales pitches …prevention information is delivered in a way that meets elders' need for interaction, rather than relying on recordings Expensive; less effective without personal interaction and without individualized, concrete strategies for minimizing high-risk behaviors
9 Making it easier for victims to hang up on telephone scams Decreases exposure to fraudulent pitches; reduces temptation …exposure is primarily via telemarketing calls Expensive; does not address other sales approaches (mail, in person)
10 Launching undercover operations Increases offenders' risk of arrest and prosecution …launched as a multiagency effort; undercover victim strategy is coupled with infiltration of the organization itself Expensive; requires long-term commitment; complex and competing interests
Specific Responses: Financial Exploitation
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
11 Enacting proactive health care, legal, and financial planning Makes it more difficult to access elders' assets …done early, before any cognitive deterioration; attorneys and financial experts guide the arrangements Does not guarantee long-term security of assets
12 Assessing statutes related to power of attorney Decreases vulnerability to abuse …the review is accompanied by new procedural safeguards Legislative changes require long-term commitment; impact limited to attempts to abuse power of attorney
13 Screening caregivers Prevents those with criminal records of abusing the elderly from continuing to do so …criminal records in multiple jurisdictions can be accessed Effectiveness is limited to those situations in which caregivers are hired through an agency; will not impact informal arrangements
14 Training police and professionals involved in elders' affairs Increases possibilities for early detection …there are ongoing working relationships between police and the professionals; a specific officer is identified for future inquiries May still require a mental health professional to determine the capacity for consent; assessments are expensive
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
15 Disseminating information as a stand-alone strategy Provides access to information on current frauds and methods to decrease personal risk …recipients follow the advice Difficult to target elders at highest risk; fails to meet needs for interaction; cannot be individualized
16 Enacting mandatory reporting laws Increases the likelihood that crimes will be reported …mandated reporters know how to detect abuse and understand the protocol for reporting; investigating agencies are sufficiently funded to respond to all reports Lack of follow-through tends to erode confidence in the system
17 Bonding or registering telemarketers Requires telemarketing operations to provide assurance of legitimacy and good-faith intentions …telemarketers agree to follow all rules and regulations Requires buy-in from offenders; provides false sense of good intentions; most consumers do not know to ask about bonding or registration
18 Expanding existing statutes Provides enhanced penalties for crimes targeting the elderly; reduces rewards …offenders are caught; restitution is ordered and enforced No general deterrence effect; does not help prevention efforts