LA Times: Don’t Blame “Rogue” LOs for Reverse Mortgage Crime

Most often, family members are the first to be found guilty in instances of reverse mortgage abuse—far before the loan officers who originated those loans, writes an L.A. Times article by Lew Sichelman this week.

A recent case of reverse mortgage fraud perpetrated against many seniors encouraged to refinance their existing mortgages into reverse mortgages made national headlines when loan officers and a title agent were tried for the crimes. One was recently found guilty and sentenced to 70 months in prison and $2 million in restitution for the crime.

But more often than not, the article writes, “rogue mortgage professionals aren’t the chief perpetrators of elder abuse. Family members are.”

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According to MetLife’s Mature Market Institute, about 60 percent of the financial abuse cases substantiated by adult protective services involve an adult child. Sons are most likely to rip off their parents or grandparents, the study found, even more so than a paramour, bogus contractor, fly-by-night handyman or shady lender.

At the same time, the desire to take out a loan they don’t fully comprehend could be a sign that something else is going on in their lives.

Loneliness and isolation raise the risk of elder financial abuse, which covers a lot of territory, including theft, misuse of financial instruments such as powers of attorney, investment fraud, home repair schemes and identity theft. The high rate of dementia among seniors makes them a tempting target, especially when they own their homes free and clear and have good credit ratings.Who is going to benefit? Find out who the real beneficiary will be and why. If it’s not the senior, your antennae should wiggle.

Read the L.A. Times article.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • If anything the industry should support efforts to stop senior financial abuse no matter who is perpetuating it.  If seniors are more vulnerable to higher losses due to easy access to cash by having a reverse mortgage we should be in the forefront of finding ways to mitigate such losses.

    Reverse mortgages are a great financial tool but they can be improved (or the manner in which cash is accessible to caregivers, etc. can be tightened up).  If none of that can be done, at least we can say we will have been part of those trying to find solutions.  

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