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Protect Yourself and Others from Older Adult Financial Fraud

Alameda’s Point in Time Count, a Wellness Campus update, and a documentary on Guaranteed Basic Income

Fraud perpetrated against older adults—or elder fraud, as the FBI officially calls it—is both infuriating and heartbreaking. It happens when someone steals or misuses a senior’s financial assets — their savings or income — and often involves deceptive practices such as impersonating a government official, charity, individual in need, romantic interest, or lottery or sweepstakes representative.

Alameda Post - an image depicting fraud. A little cartoon thief climbs through a laptop screen, and two credit cards are nearby

Criminals gain their target’s trust by communicating with them online, by phone, and/or mail. Seniors are targeted because many of them tend to be trusting, polite, and sometimes lonely. Many will listen to a caller rather than hang up. Also, older adults often have financial savings, own a home, and have good credit—all of which make them attractive to scammers.

The consequences of these schemes can be financially and emotionally devastating, but many seniors are reluctant to report fraud. They may not know who to contact, or may feel embarrassed or ashamed about being deceived and don’t want family members to doubt their ability to manage their finances. In fact, there is no shame in being a victim of fraud—it can happen to anyone—and promptly reporting this criminal activity helps law enforcement agencies apprehend criminals who prey on seniors, and prevents other seniors from becoming victims.

If you believe you or someone you know has been a victim of elder fraud—regardless of dollar amount—contact the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office at 415-553-7400, submit a tip online, or file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The FBI advises that you report quickly to capture as many of the following details as possible:

  • Names of the scammer and/or company.
  • Dates of contact.
  • Methods of communication.
  • Phone numbers, email addresses, mailing addresses, and websites used by the perpetrator.
  • Methods of payment.
  • Where you sent funds, including wire transfers and prepaid cards (provide financial institution names, account names, and account numbers).
  • Descriptions of your interactions with the scammer and the instructions you were given.

Whenever possible, you should keep original documentation, emails, faxes, and logs of communications.

Counting our unsheltered neighbors

Alameda Post- Alameda Mayor Marily Ezzy Ashcraft
Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Mayor of Alameda

At 5 a.m. on January 25, I joined more than 60 other trained volunteers for the 2024 Point in Time (PIT) Count in Alameda. The PIT count is conducted nationwide every two years to estimate the number of individuals experiencing homelessness on a given night.

Data is collected through one-on-one interviews recorded on a phone app and is used for strategic planning to address homelessness and pursue government funding for programs and resources.

While survey results won’t be released for several months, we continue to assist unsheltered individuals and families in Alameda. Providing housing for all Alamedans and supporting unsheltered community members are priorities in the City’s Strategic Plan, and are critical to community well-being.

Wellness Campus update

Alameda Post - a render of the new Wellness Campus, a two story building with garden area
An artistic render of the new Wellness Campus. Image Alameda Point Collaborative.

One example of the City’s efforts to support unsheltered community members is the Alameda Wellness Campus now under construction on McKay Avenue. When completed in 2025, this vital facility will provide:

  • A 50-bed medical respite center projected to annually serve 400 medically frail local residents who are discharged from area hospitals, but because they are unhoused, have no safe place to recuperate and heal.
  • A primary care clinic providing integrated medical and behavioral health care for unsheltered individuals.
  • A homeless prevention and housing placement resource center to help City of Alameda residents who are newly unsheltered or experiencing housing insecurity find housing.

We look forward to construction of an Assisted Living Center for frail, unsheltered seniors at this location soon.

Guaranteed Basic Income documentary:

Alameda Post - a movie poster for It's BasicAnother way our city is attempting to help individuals and families avoid, or exit, homelessness is through “Rise Up Alameda,” a guaranteed basic income program that launched in December 2023 and will provide 150 low-income Alameda residents and families with $1,000 a month for two years.

To learn more about the importance of these programs, please join us at the Alameda Theatre Wednesday, February 28, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., for a free screening of the documentary, “It’s Basic.” The film features Stockton, California, Mayor Michael Tubbs and participants of guaranteed income pilot programs across the country. A panel discussion will follow the screening. Reserve your ticket online.

Happy Lunar New Year! Happy Valentines Day! Stay Alameda Safe, Strong, and Compassionate!

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft is the Mayor of the City of Alameda. Reach her at [email protected].

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