An older woman staring off into the distance sitting next to her daughter

Signs of Financial Elder Abuse

As adults get older, brain functions can decline. This is known as cognitive brain impairment with older age being the leading cause. Because of this, some people try to take advantage of older adults, especially if they have access to a significant amount of money. Investors are not immune to this concept and can create schemes that result in older adults losing their money.

Below we outline signs to watch out for if you suspect an older loved one or friend is the victim of financial elder abuse.


Also known as account churning, this is when the broker is excessively trading investments only to earn a commission. Every time a broker buys or sells securities, they usually make a cut of that trade. By consistently trading to earn themselves a profit, the broker is not looking out for the best interest of the client.

Elders can become victims of this scam because the broker can make it sound like excessive trading is earning the elder more income or that more revenue will come down the road because of the constant trading.

Ponzi Schemes

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. However, Ponzi schemes aren’t always easy to identify. In a Ponzi scheme, the broker or financial advisor holds onto the money and tells the investor that the money is going into an “investment” that’s actually fake. An example of this is the broker or financial advisor saying the investment is for an oil or gas investment that has a high rate of return with little risk. This can be appealing, especially if an elder doesn’t investigate any further into their investment but can result in severe financial consequences.

Unsuitable Investments

Another example of a broker or financial advisor may try to take advantage of an elder is by suggesting investments that are outside of the elder’s risk tolerance, also known as unsuitable investments. A broker or financial advisor may finesse an elaborate idea to an elder saying why this investment would be good, even if the risk factors are higher than what the elder has previously expressed interest in.

Other Warning Signs of Financial Elder Abuse

A Broker or Financial Advisor Borrowing or Stealing Money

If the broker or financial advisor thinks that they have a trusting relationship with the elder, they could fabricate a story saying that they need to borrow money for something (such as their own financial venture) or even worse, take money from an elder without the intent of paying it back. While borrowing money isn’t illegal, it’s immoral for someone who is investing on behalf of an elder to ask to borrow money.

A Financial Advisor or Broker Making Themselves a Benefactor of an Elder’s Will

It would be highly unlikely for a financial advisor or broker to be named a benefactor of an elder’s will, especially if this action is done without the knowledge of any other benefactors. There should be a respectful distance between a financial advisor or broker’s professional and personal relationship with an investor, and an elder naming someone like this as a benefactor of their will is a red flag.

Changes in Their Banking Practices or Withdrawals in Their Bank Accounts

It’s not unusual for someone to go to the bank once a week to withdraw money or chat with their favorite teller. What can be a warning sign, though, is someone going to the bank more frequently than they usually do and taking out large amounts of money compared to what they usually would. Especially if an older adult is doing this to put more money into an investment, it could be a warning sign.

An Elder Reporting They Are a Victim

This action should be taken with the utmost seriousness. If an older adult comes to you and claims they have been a victim of financial abuse, it is critical to pursue legal action right away.

If this happens, or, an older friend or loved one has investments and you are suspicious about their financial activities, there are actions you can take. The experienced attorneys at Weltz Law can investigate the circumstances and let you know if pursuing legal action would be possible.

After saving or earning their money for so long, it would be devastating to lose those finances due to financial elder abuse. Contact our offices today at (877) 905-7671 to see how we can help.