Authorities warn elderly residents to be aware of fraud and exploitation

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SARASOTA - Those over the age of 65 hold a third of the country's wealth, as a result, the elderly population is scammed out of $2.6 billion each year. And with those statistics, our older population is too often a target for thieves and scammers.

Saturday is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and in honor of the day, the state's Department of Health hosted a forum for community professionals, who say preventing elder fraud and exploitation is something we all need to be involved in.

Officials say there are over 1,000 cases of elderly exploitation every year in Sarasota County alone. They say studies have shown that the elderly are more trusting, and typically have a nest egg of money for retirement -- making them easy targets.

“Just be present; a lot of times they think that their loved one’s capable of taking care of everything. They don’t want to think they're having problems, because it means that my mom’s getting older, or whatever. So i think the biggest thing is just be there, know what's happening, and be able to assist when necessary,” said Lisa Voigt of Department of Children & Families.

If you suspect a friend or loved one may be the victim of elderly exploitation, you can call the Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.