The reason Brandon Garod has a job, he said, is because of the number of calls the attorney general’s office gets per week regarding scams and crimes against the elderly.
Garod, the state’s elder abuse prosecutor, said Friday at a fraud prevention seminar at the Cooperative Middle School that senior citizens are constantly inundated with outside attempts to extort money from them.
“These are sharp people who work their wholes lives and just get stuck in these scams,” Garod said. “It happens every day.”
Garod said his office has seen people losing their homes and cars due to money they’ve sent to scams. One victim, he said, sent more than $100,000 to a scammer.
“Most of these scams are originating overseas,” Garod said. “In Jamaica, India, South America. It’s hard to arrest and prosecute these people, so we need to educate the public as much as possible. The best defense is having these conversations.”
Garod’s position with the attorney general’s office is rather new. An elder abuse and exploitation unit was formed last July, made up of Garod and a victim advocate, Sunny Mulligan Shea. James Boffetti, senior assistant attorney general, said the unit prosecutes various crimes against the elderly, including theft by deception, financial exploitation and abuse. The unit is currently prosecuting its first negligent homicide case out of Exeter, where an elderly woman was allegedly neglected by family members, resulting in her death.
“I think it’s helpful to distinguish between two different types of fraud,” Boffetti said. “The first is this anonymous, stranger-type fraud. Phone scams, mail scams that target the elderly. The other type of elder financial fraud, which is what the new statute in New Hampshire targets, is people who have some fiduciary responsibility for the senior. It’s a trusted relative, guardian, co-signer on an account, someone who is trusted to help the elder person manage their affairs. The new statute passed a few years ago basically states if you are a fiduciary, you are responsible for safe-guiding the funds of the elderly person, and if you use that money for something other than the elderly person’s benefit, that is potentially a crime.”