Commerence Dept. Warns Elderly Of ‘Friendly’ Scammers

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Commerce said they caught a man who allegedly took advantage of senior citizens and swindled them out of $71,500.

Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said James Ronald Redden is facing charges after befriending several elderly people and getting them to invest in fake annuities.

Rothman said the one of alleged victims was an 85-year-old retired St. Paul police officer. He lost $50,000.

Another 88-year-old man gave more than $21,500 in loans to Redden — $5,000 of which was used to purchase a stock that Redden allegedly claimed would double in value in a short period of time. The Commerce Department said, however, the stock wasn’t suitable for the man because of his age.

“Senior citizens are among the most vulnerable to scams, fraud, and financial abuse,” said Rothman. “That’s why the Commerce Department is redoubling our efforts to crack down on scam artists who take advantage of elderly consumers. Being defrauded out of tens of thousands of dollars late in life can be devastating – and it happens to thousands of seniors every year.”

The Commerce Department said professional scammers build their cons on trust. Many will build friendships with victims before encouraging them to make unwise or unsuitable investments.

According to the 2010 Investor Protection Trust Elder Fraud Survey one out of every five people over the age of 65 – have already been victimized by a financial swindle. The survey said that seniors are scammed out of $2.5 billion each year.

The Commerce Department said if you’re worried that you may be a victim of a scam or a too-good-to-be-true investment, ask the following questions:

• Were you promised a high return on a low-risk investment?
• Did you have enough time to make a decision?
• Were you given confidential or “inside” information?
• Can you verify the investment with a credible source?
• Is the person who contacted you registered?

You can also call the Consumer Help Line at (651) 296-2488 or (800) 657-3602 for more information.


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