Fraud Watch: Montana agencies launch Senior Financial Exploitation Task Force

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By: Jonathon Ambarian

State leaders say people over 65 are the top targets for financial abuse and exploitation.

At the office of State Auditor Matt Rosendale, Montana’s securities and insurance commissioner, about three-quarters of securities fraud cases they handle involve seniors. Leaders say older Montanans are targeted because they have built up wealth over the years.

“That’s where the money is,” said deputy securities commissioner Lynne Egan. “That’s where the con artists are preying; that’s where exploiters are looking to get rich quickly.”

In 2017, Montana lawmakers passed a bill allowing financial advisers and other professionals to delay making payments from a vulnerable person’s account when they suspect exploitation. They can then contact the auditor’s office, which will determine the next steps that should be taken…

Since the bill took effect, Rosendale’s office estimates they’ve received about 30 reports of possible financial exploitation and stopped around $5 million in suspicious transactions…

Last month, Rosendale announced the creation of a Senior Financial Exploitation Task Force. At the new group’s first meeting, those in attendance included Attorney General Tim Fox and leaders from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, the Montana Division of Banking and Financial Institutions and the Montana County Attorneys Association…

“Those folks have worked their entire lives, they’ve saved, they’ve tried to prepare for their later years,” he said. “We’re just trying to make sure that someone doesn’t swoop in and take advantage of them.”

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