Fraud Targets Island Seniors

Mollie Chang
Mollie Chang
Marilyn Tomita
Marilyn Tomita

(KHNL) - In Hawaii where the aloha spirit rules, people still get taken.

Our kupuna, or elders are among the most vulnerable people, when it comes to fraud.

Statistics show about twenty percent of island seniors fall victims to scams. In a special team report with the Honolulu Advertiser, KHNL News 8's Angela Keen follows an Oahu senior who's leading the fight against elder fraud.

Mollie chang is a fitness instructor, a marathoner, and a medicare recipient. But her real passion is fighting fraud. The scams can be abuse, fraud, or errors and it's not only in the healthcare field, there are also telemarketing schemes to be warry of.

Molly volunteers for Sage Watch, a state program that helps prevent elder fraud. She has even gone through fraud prevention training with the F.B.I.

But it's during her exercise class that other seniors reach out to her for help and advice.  They want to know more about it; what do they do about how to protect numbers such as social security, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, your medicare numbers things like that.

Marilyn Tomita is one of the people Mollie helped when Marilyn's elderly mother was victimized.

She says, "It makes you very angry because here is somebody being very trusting and then having well their space violated that's what it amounts to."

Mollie's advice, people should know that numbers like your social security, your medicare card, your credit card and your bank account number should not be numbers that you should give out without care.

While shredders are common in most homes many senior citizens don't have them. So if you aren't able to shred your mail and personal information Mollie has a practical suggestion:

"You tear something in half and part of it goes in the bag and then the other and then you throw your papaya peelings your coffee and shake it up and so that person the dumpster diver is not going to go in the dumpster to get that paper because it has the coffee grounds. nother tip seniors shouldn't answer the phone unless they know who's calling.  So my advice is monitor your calls if at all possible you can hang up you didn't initial the call so you don't have to give out information."

Mollie stresses it's important you talk with your parents, grand parents, and kupuna about scams and fraud. She says don't wait until it happens to someone you love.

Both Sage Watch and the American Association of Retired Persons have new fraud prevention outreach programs.

Seniors who are taken advantage of financially often find their abusers aren't just strangers. Some seniors are victimized by those closest to them -- their family members and caregivers.