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Florida senior one of many targeted by Jamaican scams

Florida is a haven for millions of senior citizens who love our state's beauty and wonderful weather. Sadly, all too often aging comes with mental disorders and the inability to make decisions on one's own. If a senior citizen has the incapacity to make sound financial decisions on his or her own, it can be easy for scam artists to zero in. Florida residents have lost millions of dollars to foreign scammers who prey on vulnerable seniors.

A man found out that his mother was being repeatedly victimized by Jamaican scam artists, when her financial advisor called to let him know she had withdrawn $40,000 from her bank account. The Buena Vista woman, suffering from dementia, had previously lost about $300,000 to Jamaican scam artists promising her lottery winnings and other prizes. She'd pawned her car and wedding ring and maxed out 11 credit cards, and authorities even suspected her of money laundering. Her son said they sent the lonely widow constant mailings and called her home dozens of times a day, before he moved her to a Brevard County assisted living facility for her protection.

Two Florida senators are pushing for Jamaican diplomats to allow the extradition of scam artists to the U.S. for prosecution. Last month, the AARP mailed millions of postcards warning seniors of scams, and Western Union is training employees about fraud victim abuse.

Because scam victims are most likely to be single seniors living alone and suffering from a mental impairment, relatives who wish to protect them may want to discuss conservatorship with an estate planning attorney. By protecting a loved one's assets when he or she is no longer able to function independently, it can ensure a senior family member lives through the retirement years in comfort, as well as protecting the family estate.

Source: Florida Today, "Nelson targets Jamaican scam artists," Ledyard King, April 22, 2013

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