Del. Michelle Maldonado this week called for action to protect members of our senior community against harm at the intersection of elder financial fraud and wire fraud. Pointing to the recent revelations shared by the family of veteran Larry Cook, Maldonado emphasized that financial institutions should have a duty to report if they suspect financial fraud is occurring.
After suffering a stroke in 2019, Cook was defrauded of $3.6 million in savings. Family members discovered the financial abuse following his death in 2021. Niece Janine Satterfield describes “mind-boggling amounts” of transactions sent to Thailand, including over 40 international wire transfers made to scammers even after Navy Federal Credit Union and Wells Fargo Bank had flagged Cook’s transactions as problematic. Satterfield has joined with other relatives to file a lawsuit against the two banks.
Cook, who retired from the Navy after exceptional service aboard nuclear submarines, is an example of how vulnerable our elders can be to financial exploitation. Maldonado is calling for banks to shoulder some of the responsibility of protecting their clients, and advocates for instituting policies and procedures that would support both the banks and those they serve.
“Elder financial fraud is estimated to be a $3 billion dollar a year problem,” Maldonado notes. “People who have worked hard all their lives and are living in or working toward retirement are being scammed out of their life savings, leaving them little to nothing to live on or to pass on to their loved ones. We must do a better job of protecting them.”
For more, see Del. Maldonado’s discussion of elder financial abuse with NBC Washington.