BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Attorney General Jeff Landry hosted a town hall meeting Thursday to discuss ways to stop scammers from preying on elderly people in Louisiana.
The keynote guest, Mick Mulvaney, is the director of the Office of Budget and Management, a member of President Trump’s cabinet, and the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He says one in ten elderly people have been victimized by a scammer, costing Americans as much as $36 billion each year.
“The folks who are doing this to the older population will really do just about anything to get money,” Mulvaney said. “The level of depravity in these folks probably knows no bounds.”
Mulvaney and Landry say scams come in hundreds of complicated forms, including “romance fraud," where people court your loved ones, but really want their money. Scammers often call vulnerable people, pretending to be government officials that collect debt. Landry says the government never asks for money over the phone.
Representatives from the AARP and the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs say many of their reported fraud cases actually involve family members, including children or siblings, who take advantage of older relatives.
“These are some of the most despicable people known to man,” Landry said. “When people prey on the elderly, they’re preying on our most vulnerable at a time when they should be enjoying their life.”
Mulvaney noted many elders could be embarrassed to admit they were tricked, but Landry says the first step toward preventing fraud is reporting it. The Louisiana Consumer Protection Hotline phone number is 1-800-351-4889.
“Chances are if they’ve done it to you, they’re going to do it to someone else in your community,” Mulvaney said. “The best thing you can do to help the folks you care about is to tell somebody.”
Landry also recommended looking at contract templates before hiring contractors or legal service providers. He also says to take photos with salespeople and contractors, that way you have something to show police if they scam you.
Landry says it’s important for government officials to show their IDs and recommends protecting your personal documents in safe, waterproof containers.