Posted on Jan 09, 2019
Led by Rotarian and First Financial Bank of Mineral Wells President Cory Crenshaw, three senior bank officers and Mineral Wells Police Department Det. Sgt. Darby Thomas on Wednesday gave local Rotarians a program on financial exploitation geared toward protecting elderly persons from scams and fraud.
Representing First Financial Bank were vice presidents Matt Sudderth (pictured above), Trina Richards and Maria Putman.
Like most banks and financial institutions, First Financial is committed to helping identify and stop scams and fraud, especially those that target seniors and the elderly. According to FFB's "Financial Exploitation" program, 1-in-7 senior citizens will become the victim of financial fraud – oftentimes by someone they trust like a family member or caregiver.
First Financial Bank of Mineral Wells Vice President Trina Richards discusses financial exploitation of seniors and the elderly at Wednesday's Rotary Club of Mineral Wells meting at Pastafina Restaurant.
A report by Consumer Reports was cited that states 37 percent of the nation's seniors are affected by financial abuse during any five-year period, and that scams targeting seniors result in financial losses totaling $36.48 billion – billion – each year.
Sudderth said it is important for family members to keep careful watch over the financial transactions of aging parents to help ensure they do not become the victims of fraudulent schemes that are becoming more and more sophisticated and, with changing technologies, easier to accomplish.
However, he said banks and institutions are also better equipped to monitor and stop fraud before it happens. It especially helps in a community like Mineral Wells where many people know each other and have known relationships.
Sudderth said relationships and communication are key to helping prevent fraud of seniors and the elderly, who said often will not report a successful scam because they are embarrassed, or fear losing their independence.
Mineral WellsPolice Department Det. Sgt. Darby Thomas discusses financial exploitation of seniors and the elderly at Wednesday's Rotary Club of Mineral Wells meting at Pastafina Restaurant.
Some of the stranger scams commonly used were pointed out:
  • Lottery or Sweepstakes: Victims are told they have won the lottery but will need to pay a fee to claim prizes.
  • IRS/Social Security Scam: Victims are told they owe money to the government. They are threatened by government impersonators with criminal charges if they do not wire balance owed within a very short amount of time—usually just a couple of hours.
  • Home Repair: Victims are required to pay, in advance, for unnecessary work and materials or they are charged for work that didn’t take place. Often, if work is completed, victims are required to pay an unreasonable fee for services.
  • Charitable Giving: Victims are convinced to “gift” money to a non-existent charity.
  • Telemarketing Scams: Victims pay for a product or service that will never be delivered.
  • Utility/Alarm service person: Posing as trusted professionals, fraudsters gain entry to victim’s home. One fraudster distracts the victim while the other steals valuables or financial documents.
  • Grandparent Scam: Victim receives a call that a family member has been injured and needs money for medically necessary transport. Another variant of this scam includes claims that a younger family member has been arrested and will be held until money is wired to a specified location.
  • Investment Scams: Included in these scams are advanced fee schemes, offshore investment opportunities, Ponzi/pyramid schemes, prime bank scams and commodity scams.
Through the presentation, Sudderth pointed out some signs and indications that help identify financial exploitation, especially from the perspective of a financial institution:
  • Victim suddenly changes how they handle routine transactions.
  • Victim withdraws large sums of cash without wanting to share details.
  • Once friendly with banking staff, the victim now appears withdrawn.
  • Victim involves a stranger in financial transactions that result in higher than usual cash withdrawals.
  • Victim mentions that they no longer receive bank-issued mail or important documents.
  • Victim initiates a large wire transfer to a foreign country.
  • Victim makes changes to property titles, wills, Power of Attorney and other legal documents without fully understanding the consequences of those actions.
  • Victim mentions the lack of utilities and other amenities despite having funds to pay for them.
  • Victim mentions that property has been stolen from the home.
More information about financial exploitation of seniors and the elderly can be found online at
This week's meeting was moved to Pastafina Restaurant, but plans are to return to Holiday Hills Country Club for the Jan. 16 meeting.
Putting "Service Above Self," Rotary Club meets every Wednesday at noon at Holiday Hills Country for lunch, networking, updates on club news and projects and a program of interest. Explore our website to learn about becoming a member and joining with us to help make our community, and the world, a better place. Seek out a Rotarian for more information and an invitation to attend a meeting.