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MN’s Most Rapidly Growing Crime Might Surprise You

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – A coalition of groups are launching a statewide campaign to stop elder abuse, as 30,000 cases of senior citizen fraud and abuse have been reported in just the last couple of years in Minnesota.

The shocking fact is that’s only a fraction of what’s going on.

Retired Duluth police officer Scott Campbell knows about investigating crimes. He just didn’t know he’d have to do it for his mother when her money disappeared.

“And the money just evaporated over 18 months — there was nothing tangible left,” Campbell said.

To his shock, Campbell discovered his brother took it all.

“He bought a new car for $30,000, airline tickets, and he built a new home,” Campbell said.

Financial abuse of seniors is now among the fastest growing and least reported crimes in the state.

It’s why a new coalition is launching an awareness campaign called SAFE Elders — Stop Abuse and Financial Exploitation.

“These are people whom the vulnerable adults expects to be a helper, and instead turns out to be a thief,” said Iris Freeman of William Mitchell College of Law.

What’s important is knowing what to look for.

“Is someone isolating them from others?” Rep. Debra Hilstrom said. “Did they used to go to church all the time, and now you are not seeing them there? Is a new stranger, someone different is living in their home?”

And now, there’s an app for that – just search safe elders.

Families can download it if they are concerned.

“What is the law? Is this right or is this wrong? What can I do about it? Where are my resources?” Capt. Joe Leko said.

With a record number of seniors about to retire, Campbell spends his time talking about what happened to his mother.

And predicting it will get worse.

Minnesota’s come a long way in recent years strengthening the laws on elder abuse.

But prosecutors and police say they expect this to be among the most rapidly growing crimes in the next 10 years.

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