WEATHER WATCH
Lawmakers pass bill to investigate, prevent elder abuse after record scams during pandemic
Scammers found creative ways to exploit one of the most vulnerable populations in the state, that was sheltering in place and often were separated from family members. (WRGB)

Becky Preve Is the Executive director of the Association on Aging in New York. She says that the elderly were an easy target for financial scammers during the pandemic.

“83 percent of the national wealth is held by those 50 and older. They have steady income. They are easy to target for these things. They own their own homes, they don’t have mortgages,” Preve said.

She says scammers found creative ways to exploit one of the most vulnerable populations in the state, that was sheltering in place and often were separated from family members.

“One of the ones that we saw early on in the pandemic were texts messages that would go to the cell phones that looked like they originated from the emergency management operation stating someone had been exposed to COVID. These are all ways to garner personal information,” Preve said.

She says enhanced multidisciplinary teams, or E-MDT’s have helped investigate cases of elder abuse, and the legislation would help crack down on the issue. It’s passed the Assembly and the Senate. If signed into law, It would create a state-run E-MDT program, which could help investigate complex cases of neglect, and physical psychological and sexual abuse. Preve says 50 counties already have their own E-MDT program in place, including Fulton and Washington county in our area. David McNally of the AARP says the bill expands their reach.

“This will make everything on a firm ground. They can keep doing the work they’ve been doing except now it will be codified into law,” McNally said.

Democratic Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz says it makes sense for the state to oversee the program, since they’ll have a duty to ensure it works.

“There’s a connection information wise. And there’s also the money. Now the state is going to have the duty to make sure that there is money and money out into programs like this,” Cruz said.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk. Cruz and the advocacy groups we spoke to Say that this program can also help educate the public about these scams to help prevent future cases from happening.

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