Medical and legal experts caution of rise in fraud against Asian dementia patients

As some populations in South East Asia begin to age, a worrying trend has begun to be noted whereby dementia patients are being are victims of fraud by their relatives and friends. With citizens growing richer but still relying on their relatives for care, legal experts have urged people at risk to take steps to protect their wealth whilst they are still able to.

Fraud or mistreatment of the elderly has long been a taboo subject in Asia, a region that places an emphasis on values such as filial piety, family harmony and respect for the elderly.

Countries such as Singapore have recognized the threat of such a problem. The Government enacted the Mental Capacity Act in March 2010 to combat the threat of fraud. The Act provides for an individual to have a nominee to manage their assets when they are no longer of sound mind. The process is similar to a Power of Attorney and involves the medical community Singapore’s public guardian office.

Hong Kong has a Guardianship Board tribunal to resolve disputes over the handling of the assets belonging to an elderly person suffering dementia. The tribunal hears around 300 fraud cases involving senior citizens each year.

Legal and medical experts have suggested that the best method to protect potential victims against dementia fraud is to have an early diagnosis of the disease. Those who know they are at risk of suffering dementia later can draw up wills and enduring powers of attorney while they are still mentally sound, and have them publicly recorded as their wishes on how they and their assets should be treated.

Though Singapore and Hong Kong authorities have begun to address this problem, many other Asian countries have been slow on the uptake. This is despite the fact that the populations in parts of Asia are predicted to age rapidly without an effective legal and social structure to handle the myriad problems of aging.

Dementia is an irreversible fatal brain-wasting disease which weakens the memory, thinking, behaviour and ability to handle daily activities. Patients can continue to live for many years after they have ceased to function mentally. This in turn can result in family conflict with children competing to control the finances of the elder person and cases of fraud and abuse can occur.

The best advice is don’t leave it too late to make a living will. If you are still active but facing a decline in mental capacity, get started on the living will now via a lawyer or other advisor.

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with preventing fraud? Simply go to our Fraud page or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.

How to disappear – but not pseudocide

Most of us at one time or another has wished we could simply disappear. To walk away and not be followed by those irritating phone calls, SMS messages, emails, FaceBook alerts and utility bills! The wish is usually fleeting and we return to getting on with our lives.

However, for some people this desire advances beyond the daydreaming and the need to disappear becomes reality. The reasons for needing to disappear vary but generally include being the victim of stalking, suffering an abusive relationship, avoiding notoriety, involvement in criminal activities or fleeing creditors and legal action.

For those who are serious with wanting to disappear, there is an expert named Frank Ahern who operates the website http://www.frankahearn.com.  Frank Ahern comes to this subject from a unique perspective – he has spent over twenty years as a skip tracer based in New York and is one of the best in the business.

Frank Ahern has spent years learning to how trace missing and disappeared people via the various footprints that they leave behind – frequent flyer accounts, utility bills, old e-mail addresses etc. Frank Ahern found that there was also a demand for legitimate people wanting to relocate to another part of the US and erase their history to avoid the jealous ex-partner or workplace stalker.

Frank Ahern has noted that the biggest mistake that people make when trying to disappear is to walk away leaving things up in the air. Instead, Frank Ahern counsels that the act of disappearing should be some months long process of tying up loose ends, covering the tracks and, most importantly, sowing false leads as to where they may have gone. If the jealous ex-partner thinks that the individual has taken a teaching job in Italy, they will expend their efforts searching in Italy whilst the individual rebuilds their life in Austin, Texas.

Some people misunderstand the service that Frank Ahern provides and ask him `to help fake their deaths’! This act is commonly referred to as `pseudocide’ and became even more notorious after UK man John Darwin swindled ₤250,000 from insurance companies after faking his death in a supposed canoeing accident. Darwin and his wife, Anne Darwin, were eventually found out and sentenced to six years each. Frank Ahern refuses to have anything to do with such requests as they are clearly illegal.

As a cheaper alternative to engaging Frank Ahern, he is the author of a book titled `How to Disappear and Fall Off the Grid’ which can be downloaded from his website for around S$25. Reader discretion is strongly advised!

Are you seeking to locate someone? If so, we at Regents can help you – just visit our Locating People page for further information

Phone scam leads back to Singapore

Former American Football player Kamari Charlton has been arrested in Singapore for his alleged involvement in defrauding a number of Australians of thousands of dollars plus overstaying his tourist visa. Singapore authorities said they are also investigating Charlton for money laundering offences.

Staying in Singapore more than 90 days after the expiration of a visitor’s visa is punishable with a maximum jail term of six months and at least three cane strokes. Cheating is punished with a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine. If convicted of the visa charge, Charlton would be the first US citizen to be caned in Singapore since 1994, when then-teenager Michael Fay was punished for vandalism.

Police alleged Charlton has been involved with a telephone fraud that targeted elderly Australian citizens of Croatian heritage. It appears that telephone calls were made to elderly Croatian Australians from people claiming to be friends with their relatives.

The callers spun stories which centred on the relative being stranded somewhere overseas and needing urgent funds to buy a plane ticket or obtain medical treatment. Many of the elderly Croatian Australians fell for the fraud as the callers spoke Croatian and knew intricate details of their family members.

The victims were directed to transfer funds via Western Union. It is believed that there are around twenty four separate victims in Australia, with one victim losing US$24,000. Reports about the frauds were made to local Police and some of the phone calls and money transfers were traced to Singapore and allegedly direct to Charlton. Assistance was provided by Interpol to coordinate the investigation.

To protect yourself against any similar scam requesting you send funds for an emergency, follow these guidelines:

  • Treat any phone calls from strangers claiming to be calling on behalf of a friend or relative with great suspicion
  • Always ask for the full name of the caller, their location and contact number and insist on a landline number
  • Following the call, make your own inquiries as to the current location and predicament of your friend or relative to cross reference the claims made by the caller
  • Relate the call to a good friend, work colleague or neighbour for their opinion as to the veracity of the call
  • Do not send funds to any bank account unless you’re certain the request is genuine and you have spoken personally with the friend or relative
  • Only send funds to a bank account previously known to belong to your friend or relative
  • Never send funds to Western Union or other money transfer service
  • If suspicious at any time, make a report to your local Police

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with preventing fraud? Simply go to our Contact Us page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.