As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Mark R. Herring is highlighting resources for older Virginians to help prevent them from becoming victims of scams and other kinds of financial exploitation. Attorney General Herring and his team have worked hard to educate Virginia’s older population through Triad chapters around the Commonwealth. Additionally, Attorney General Herring has taken on businesses that have defrauded elderly and disabled consumers, including securing a permanent injunction against Jim Clore and his companies Access Mobility, LLC and 2911 Mobility, LLC for their fraudulent actions.
“Unfortunately, too often scammers and fraudsters try to take advantage of Virginia’s older population, because they believe they’re easily scammed,” said Attorney General Herring. “My team and I have worked hard to make sure that Virginia’s seniors are the most informed group in the Commonwealth so that we can help prevent as many from falling victim to scams and other fraud as possible. It’s despicable that individuals prey upon older Virginians to make money and my office will remain dedicated to putting a stop to these scammers and bringing those that are successful to justice.”
“Financial exploitation of older Virginians is a growing problem with losses in the millions of dollars each year. A lot of these crimes go unreported because people are embarrassed about being victimized. We can’t let these perpetrators control the financial future of older Virginians. Contacting Adult Protective Services is another way to stop financial abuse and prevent it from happening again,” said Paige McCleary, Director of Adult Protective Services at the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services.
Access Mobility and Jim Clore
In November 2020, Attorney General Herring secured a Permanent Injunction and Final Order against James R. Clore, Jr., Access Mobility Equipment, LLC, and 2911 Mobility, LLC for defrauding elderly and disabled consumers out of thousands of dollars they paid for the delivery and installation of mobility aids and equipment, and for undertaking contracting work without a license. In addition to prohibiting future violations of the law, the Permanent Injunction and Final Order awarded the Commonwealth judgments totaling $84,290.68 in restitution for affected consumers, $220,000.00 in civil penalties, and $64,238.25 in attorneys’ fees and costs.
Financial exploitation is the mishandling, obtaining by fraud or deception, or theft of someone’s income, money, accounts, assets, or property by another person, either a friend, a family member, a caregiver, a neighbor, a bogus charity, a business, or even a stranger. Below are some ways that older Virginians can protect themselves from becoming the victim of financial exploitation:
- Stay socially active. Being alone increases your risk of becoming a victim of ﬁnancial exploitation. Become familiar with programs in your community that bring people together and support older adults and individuals with a disability.
- Plan Ahead. Document your ﬁnancial arrangements. Planning for your future gives you control over your assets and resources. Put your wishes concerning ﬁnancial arrangements in writing. It reduces the chance of a misunderstanding.
- Don’t give away property to anyone in exchange for lifelong care. Before you enter into an agreement with a person to provide you lifelong care, discuss the arrangement with an attorney, a ﬁnancial advisor, or other professional you trust. Spell out what compensation, if any, will be paid to the caregiver.
- Never sign anything you do not understand. If you are asked to sign a document, have someone you trust review it with you. Know what the document is about and get clear answers to questions before you sign anything.
- Be careful when you give someone power of attorney. Before you assign a power of attorney, be sure you understand the agreement and the authority you are giving to your power of attorney.
- Keep track of your ﬁnancial documents and personal items. Monitor your savings, checking or retirement account balances. Contact your ﬁnancial institution if you see accounting irregularities. Keep an inventory of your jewelry and other personal items. A person may try to take these items without your permission.
- Be aware of scams. Many door-to-door, telephone, and internet solicitations are scams. Be concerned if you are told that you “have just won a prize!” If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you believe you or someone you know is being financially exploited, please call your local department of social services or you can call the 24-hour Adult Protective Services hotline at (888) 832-3858. Learn more about financial exploitation at the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services website.
Scams Targeted at Older Virginians
Some warning signs to look out for so you don’t become the victim of a scam are:
- “Free” gifts that require you to pay shipping and handling fees, redemption fees or gift taxes before delivery
- “High profit, no-risk” investments
- “Act now” and other high pressure sales tactics
- A request for a credit card number for identification purposes or to verify that you have won a prize
- Refusal to provide written information or even the most basic details about an organization
- Organizations that are unfamiliar or have only a post office box for an address
Below are some common scams targeted at older Virginians:
- Telemarketing fraud – Every day, older adults receive phone calls from solicitors who tell them, “This is your lucky day.” Telemarketing is a huge business in the United States. However, there is no way to tell how much telemarketing is fraudulent, because victims are often too embarrassed to report their losses to the police. Fraudulent telemarketers are often difficult to catch because they have a fly-by-night style of operation. They often work in “boiler-rooms,” which involve leased space with banks of telephones, staffed by scam artists.
- Romance scams – Romance scams start when the scammer creates a fake online dating profile and then strikes up a relationship with their target in order to build trust. Once that relationship has been created, they’ll make up some kind of story and ask for money. Any love interest who asks you to give them money through gift cards, cryptocurrency, or through a money transfer is a scammer.
- Grandparent scams – In grandparent scams, bad actors pose as someone’s panicked grandchild in trouble and they call or send messages or emails asking for money to be wired to them immediately. Oftentimes, they’ll say that they need cash to help with an emergency, like needing to leave a foreign country, posting bail, or paying some kind of bill. They take advantage of a grandparent being worried about their grandchild in order to try and take their money.
During his time in office, Attorney General Herring has made protecting Virginia’s seniors a top priority and the Office of Attorney General even houses the Virginia Triad Office, making Virginia the only state in the country with a statewide coordinated office at the executive level of government. Triad is a cooperative effort between law enforcement agencies (police/fire/sheriffs), senior citizens, and senior organizations, across the Commonwealth.
The goal of Triad is to reduce the fear of crime and victimization among seniors by increasing awareness of scams and frauds, strengthening communication between the law enforcement and senior communities, and promoting awareness of local and state resources that may benefit them. Local Triad chapters meet regularly and host a variety of educational programs and social opportunities that emphasize crime prevention and promote connection and senior safety. The Office of the Attorney General provides technical assistance and support to local Triad chapters by assisting in the development of new chapters, hosting the annual Triad conference, and funding grant opportunities. Today, Virginia has over 200 cities, counties, and towns with signed Triad agreements and has been recognized by the National Association of Triads, Inc. as having the highest number of active local groups nationwide.
If someone believes they have been a victim of financial fraud or a scam they should contact Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section to file a complaint or to get additional information about any consumer protection related matter: