Americans Lost Nearly $8.8 Billion to Scams in 2022

scams 2022

At The Seniors Center Blog, we’re constantly looking out for scams that could target seniors. From phishing scams to romance scams, there are plenty of ways that scammers can try to get your information or your savings. And in 2022, it’s clear that some of them were successful.

AARP reports that in 2022, Americans lost nearly $8.8 billion to scammers. This is an increase of 30 percent from 2021. Many of these scams targeted seniors, who are more likely to be vulnerable to these tactics and have a greater likelihood of being targeted.

Investment scams were to blame for the largest losses in 2022. The median loss to this type of scam was reported to be $7,144, an amount that could be devastating to many seniors.

Imposter scams also rose in 2022. Scam artists might pose as tech support, government employees, or even family members in order to gain access to personal information or funds.

It’s important for seniors to be on the lookout for these scams and to know how to protect themselves. The Seniors Center Blog offers a variety of resources about recognizing, avoiding, and reporting scams. Keep up with all of our latest posts by following The Seniors Center on Twitter and Facebook today!

Social media “Secret Sister” gift exchange is an illegal pyramid scheme in a Santa suit, says Better Business Bureau

It’s that time of year,

When the world falls in love,

Every song you hear seems to say,

Merry Christmas,

Please give us your name, address,

The contact information for several of your close friends and family,

And ten dollars, and you might receive,

Up to 36 gifts in return from everyone participating,

In this year’s Secret Sister game!

Well, not every song. But if you spend a lot of time on Facebook during the holiday season, it will probably seem like it.

The “Secret Sister” gift exchange post has popped up on social media going back to 2015, and this year appears to be no different.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s an example of what the post might look like:

“Creating some positivity?” That sounds like a fantastic idea. After the way THIS year has been going for all of us, positivity is in short supply. Why not join in on a light-hearted Secret Santa while it looks like we won’t be able to join in on any in-person celebrations this winter?

…Aaaand that’s how they’ll get you. That thought process right there. Because although this scam was around long before COVID, it will be far more enticing this year than any previous. We’re all primed to conduct our holiday cheering online—and we’re far more likely to seek out ways to put ourselves in the Christmas spirit after eight months of doom and gloom.

You see, the whole “Secret Sister” thing is a lie. In reality, it’s a clever recruitment tool to get you involved in a good old fashioned pyramid scheme, according to Better Business Bureau.

You throw in $10 and tell your friends. And then they throw in $10 and tell their friends. …And then they throw in $10 and tell their friends… And so on, and so on, and so on, until the last person on Earth has put her Hamilton into the basket and there are absolutely no gifts to go around—assuming anyone gets any gifts in return at all, of course.

To make matters worse, your $10 isn’t the only thing at stake in these gift exchanges. In order to make the sending and receiving of mystery gifts from strangers possible, the exchange operators will need your full name, your address, and quite possibly your financial information depending on how they’re asking you to send your buy-in. That’s MORE than enough information for someone to get the ball rolling on stealing your identity.

Not only is this a pretty straightforward pyramid scheme—which are extremely illegal in the United States—but it’s also a form of illegal gambling, says the U.S. Postal Inspection Services.

Participating in a gift exchange like this could get you in hot water for mail fraud. Note that strange little comment in the example image about “don’t comment that it’s illegal for sending people a $10 Christmas gift.” Yeah. This person knows exactly what they’re doing.

And for the record? It IS illegal.

This scam is mostly being seen on Facebook, but you should keep an eye out for it on all of your social media platforms. It goes without saying you should completely ignore any posts or requests to join any Secret Santa-style gift exchanges with strangers, but if you see any of your friends and family sharing posts like this, give them a heads-up: not only is this a scam, but it’s one that can get everyone who participates into big, big trouble.

Scammers threaten Social Security recipients with prison

The one thing I will say in favor of Life in Quarantine is it does free up a lot of time.

When you don’t have too many places to go, you have a lot of open evenings and weekends. The past few months have been a great time to catch up on all the hobbies and projects I’ve been meaning to get around to.

Like, waxing the hardwood floors.

Reading all of the books I bought, but never touched after.

Money laundering.

Learning Italian.

Solo scherzando! My isolation hobbies don’t actually include any felonies. But, it would seem a criminal investigator at the United States Federal Government thinks they do—or at least, someone impersonating one:

This mildly threatening message is brought to you by my very own voicemail inbox.

Now, I can’t really speak for “my family,” which is also apparently being investigated (I can’t blame anyone for turning a suspicious eye toward those shifty individuals), but unless I’m entering the “committing financial crimes in one’s sleep” phase of quarantine, I’m not guilty of hiding any ill-gotten gains. I’d probably remember doing something like that if I did.

And if THAT was the case, I DEFINITELY wouldn’t be blasting my criminal warrant notice all over the internet.

There. Now that my name is sufficiently cleared…

This is just real life example of what awaits you in your voicemail box when you choose not to answer the phone for callers you don’t recognize. Or, if the caller spoofed a number in your area code, the robocall you would have received in real time if you had picked up the phone.

Admittedly, this is pretty tame version of the “you’ve committed a crime, so we’re going to need you to call back and give us all of your Social Security information” scam. They get much more colorful than simply accusing someone of money laundering. My personal favorite is the one where a “Social Security agent” calls you and tells you that your Social Security number has been linked to a rental agreement for an abandoned vehicle filled with cocaine and blood. We’ve gotta give that person at least a few points for style and flourish.

Whether the caller mentions your Social Security number, being attached to the Social Security Administration, or simply just accuses you of committing a crime without any specific nod to your Social Security, the end goal of these phishing calls is the same. Scam callers are getting a list of names and phone numbers, casting a wide net, and hoping they can scare someone enough to get them to call back. At that point, the caller will inevitably ask for your Social Security number along with as much identifying information as they can.

Once they have it, they will use it to steal your identity. If they can get your banking information out of you, they’ll skip right to the chase and help themselves directly to your bank accounts.

Lately, the setup for these scams have evolved to reflect the new pandemic-anxious environment we’re all living in. Scammers have taken advantage of those living in isolation, expecting calls from contract tracers, and looking for resources to stay safe during the pandemic by adapting their pitches to be more COVID-related.

But that doesn’t mean they’ve let go of their tried-and-true methods. Even at a time like this, nothing makes people more anxious and likely to pick up the phone than being accused of committing a federal crime.

To this I can only reiterate that you KNOW whether or not you’ve done something to get on the wrong side of the law. I mean, come on, money laundering? That’s not just something you do on accident while waiting for your toast to pop on a Tuesday morning.

If you aren’t hiding millions of dollars in offshore accounts or playing your local slots multiple times a week to clean your drug money (don’t get any funny ideas—I listen a LOT of true crime podcasts), it’s pretty safe to say you shouldn’t be taking any calls like this seriously.

And if that isn’t enough to make you feel better? I can’t stress enough that no law enforcement agency OR representative from the Social Security Administration is ever going to call you casually on the phone. That’s just not how it works. If you’re being accused of any severe wrongdoing, believe they’ll send someone to your house. At the very least, you’ll get a very serious-looking letter in the mail or something.

But a sloppy informal robot call? Not even a chance.

And bear in mind the reason the feds and the Social Security Administration can send you a letter is they know where you live already. These agencies would never need to call you on the phone and ask you for your name, your address, your Social Security Number, or any other identifying information. They have it.

So, as you’re sitting at home bored out of your skull waiting for someone—ANYONE—to call and provide you with some kind of social entertainment in quarantine right now, just remember to resist the urge to pick up for numbers you don’t know.

And if they leave you a voicemail as spooky as this one? Don’t be afraid to share it with us so we can have a good laugh.

Social Security scam calls now the #1 way thieves prey on public, says the Federal Trade Commission

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans reported $17 million in losses to the Social Security phone scam in the first six months of 2019.

Since January, the FTC has received 73,000 consumer reportsrelated to threatening calls and voicemails telling consumers their Social Security benefits will be suspended or that their Social Security number has been linked to a criminal investigation.

The number of reports combined with the catastrophic financial loss make this Social Security scam the most damaging of 2019.  The FTC has dubbed the Social Security phone scam the “new IRS scam”of 2019.

If you’re unfamiliar with this scam, count yourself one of the lucky ones.  Nearly all of us have by this time received the garbled robocall telling us there’s legal action being taken against us and our Social Security number has been “suspended” or our benefits canceled.  Toward the end of the call, the robot voice directs the listener to immediately call an unfamiliar number in order to prevent prosecution or reinstate our benefits.

It usually sounds something like this:

The message you’ve received, however, is a lie.  And if you call the number to clear up the mess, you won’t reach any Social Security Administration or detective’s office.  It’s going to be a phone scammer likely working out of a call center full of people baiting victims the exact same way.

In order to release yourself from the investigation or reinstate your Social Security benefits, the person on the other end of the line—probably pretending to be a Social Security employee or someone working out of an investigator’s office—will ask for your name, Social Security number, personal identifying information, and bank details.

After the initial setup, this becomes the exact same phishing scam as all the others.  It is an attempt by a scammer to coax you to reveal personal information or to make payments to them over the phone on fraudulent grounds.

While it may be alarming to receive a call or voicemail saying your benefits are threatened or accusing you of being involved in a crime, do not be fooled.  The Social Security Administration will NOT suspend your Social Security number and will NOT call you to tell you that your benefits are stopped or that you are under investigation. Under no circumstances will any calls like this you receive be legitimate.  This is not how the Social Security Administration (or any government agency) handles official business.

Watch the video below for more advice from the Oregon Attorney General on how you can avoid falling victim to Social Security scammers.

John Oliver: Guardianship Gone Bad

The Seniors Center has written extensively about Guardianship-for-Profit.  For More Information, read:

Senior Citizens Victimized By Guardianship-for-Profit

Famed New York socialite and philanthropist, Brooke Astor, robbed of millions in America’s most high-profile guardianship abuse case

Isolate, medicate, liquidate: senior “guardians” make millions by keeping seniors in a virtual prison

Court-Appointed “Guardians” Put Seniors In Assisted Living, Take Over Assets

Senior Citizens Victimized By Guardianship-for-Profit

In November 2009, my then very independent 88-year-old mother who lived alone in a suburb in another state 1000 miles away, called and said she needed me. I flew there immediately. Two days later, she fell and broke her hip and clavicle. She spent days in the hospital and weeks at a rehab facility. My sister joined us. We talked to her family doctor and it became clear that Mom couldn’t live alone anymore, shouldn’t be driving, and had early signs of dementia. She had been managing because she had lived there for so long, her family doctor said she was on “auto pilot.”

Older couple

Getting Older Can Mean Needing Someone To Take Care Of You. Make Sure It’s Someone You Know.

Because she had a Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate Designation, Living Will and HIPAA Release, we contacted her attorney to activate them so we could take care of her healthcare needs and finances. We decided to move her to an assisted living facility near my sister’s house, and I soon moved close by. She is 97 now, in a memory care unit and uses a wheelchair but is in good health for her age.

I can only imagine if this had happened and she hadn’t planned on how she wanted us to deal with a situation like this. Anyone who observed her on a more regular basis might have seen that she was in the early state of dementia and taken advantage of the situation by trying to obtain guardianship and wiping her out.

The Seniors Center began exposing the Guardianship-for-Profit Business in February, shortly after The New Yorker published an article about senior citizens whose lives were devastated by for-profit “guardians.”  In April, the Senate Special Committee on Aging held hearings on Guardianship Abuse.


What is Guardianship?

Guardianship is where someone petitions the court, alleges that a person is “incapacitated”, or incapable of taking care of himself, and asks the court to appoint him or a third party to take care of the incapacitated person (ward’s) medical and financial affairs. Usually equity or probate courts, which operate under very different rules from criminal courts, oversee this process. There are no fixed definitions of what constitutes “incapacity”, which varies from state to state and can be determined by people who may not be physicians, or committees who collude with each other to come up with a report.

According to Dr. Sam Sugar, author of “Guardianships and the Elderly – The Perfect Crime”, nine common scenarios trigger taking elderly people into guardianships:

  1. A dispute in the family over taking care of an elderly parent or fear that a sibling or child may have undue influence and try to steal from the parent
  2. Concern for the dissipation of a parent’s money by a new person in his/her life
  3. A weapon by an angry spouse
  4. A family’s honest attempt to get help for a loved one
  5. A non-family member recognizing the need for assistance
  6. Intervention of financial institutions who call Adult Financial Protection institutions because of suspected fraud
  7. Intervention of medical institutions who see vulnerability or abuse
  8. Family members fearing the loss of their inheritance
  9. Law enforcement intervention, especially for drug and alcohol abuse.

Richard Black, director of Americans Against Probate Guardianship, tells the story of his father-in-law, Del Mencarelli, who was a victim of a longtime family friend. The friend defrauded his father-in-law out of $1 million and cost Black’s family $400,000 to gain control of Mencarelli and his estate, but in the middle of the court battle, Mencarelli died of neglect. According to Black, families spend an average of 4500,000 fighting these guardianships.

Spider-Man creator Stan Lee, a 95-year-old widower who had a $50+ million estate, was a victim of financial abuse. An LA Court had to issue a temporary restraining order against a man who claimed to be Lee’s caregiver. You can read about other examples here:

Courts are supposed to monitor guardianships and grant them only to non-family members if there is no family member available to take care of the elderly person, but things don’t always happen that way. In 43% of the cases, guardians failed to meet all court-mandated reporting obligations, including obtaining bonds, filing an inventory of assets in the estate or annual accounting of transactions. According to a recent article in Reuters and the National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse, “the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified hundreds of abuse, neglect, and exploitation by guardians in 45 states and the District of Columbia between 1990 and 2010. The GAO reviewed 20 cases and found that guardians had stolen or otherwise improperly obtained $5.4 million from 158 incapacitated victims, mostly older adults.”

Older couple with conman

People are getting rich by getting older Americans declared incompetent.

An abusive industry has even arisen where professional, for-profit guardians are appointed by courts, which gives them absolute control over someone’s rights, including living conditions and healthcare. Guardians can transfer the elder’s financial assets, estate, and personal property even if they are in a trust, into their own names. They can limit family members from speaking to or seeing their “wards”. They can charge the estate an hourly rate to grocery shop, make phone calls, open mail or arrange family visits. The judges and lawyers who oversee this process also profit from it and are susceptible to corruption, biases and influence. If the ward dies, guardians can run up huge fees by presenting bills for services, pushing papers and filing motions.

What is Being Done to Fix This?

On April 18, 2018, the Senate Aging Committee recommended enacting state laws to provide less restrictive arrangements than guardianship, such as assisted decision making, for seniors and others with disabilities, requiring telling the individual under care and family members that a guardian has been appointed, what the guardian’s responsibilities are and how to report guardian abuse, and mandating guardians tell the courts when people under their care have become able again to make their own decisions.

Individual states and municipalities are acting to protect elderly people from abuse, including financial and guardianship abuse, with task forces, elder courts, elder justice centers, and training members of the judicial system on elder abuse. In 2010, 10 National Guardianship Network (NGN) networks met at the Third National Guardianship Summit and one of the recommendations called for Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders (WINGS) to implement the summit recommendations.

 What Can You Do to Protect Your Loved One from Guardianship Abuse?

Have a family meeting to discuss how to best protect your loved ones. If they don’t have financial and healthcare powers of attorney, consult an attorney to draft the documents. It is recommended that several people in the family be granted powers of attorney to ensure that if your loved ones become incapacitated, the person(s) they designate can make decisions for them. Keep on top of things and intervene early, because even if elders have advanced directives, wills, durable powers of attorney or trusts, if someone obtains guardianship over them, it can nullify them.

Monitor who your elders are talking to or who is helping them, especially if you do not live nearby. Unsuspecting, lonely elders who may be in frail health may let neighbors, service providers, caregivers or even complete strangers take advantage of them. If they live alone, make daily check-in calls and ask neighbors or friends to check on them. If they suddenly acquire new “friends”, check them out. If a family member is suddenly spending a lot of time with your elderly relative, find out what is going on. It may be someone with a substance abuse or financial problem looking for an easy mark. If this happens, the elder either might not realize what is going on, or report a problem out of embarrassment or fear. Only 1 in 44 cases of elder financial fraud are reported. If you suspect that it is happening to a loved one, report it to the authorities.


Protect Yourself From Fraud, Scams & Cons

I struggle to keep up with technology. It seems like I was just getting into Facebook when people started talking about Twitter.  And by the time I figured out what Twitter was all about, my kids were talking about Snapchat.

Modern technology is doing a lot to make our lives so much better.  Who could have imagined a few years ago that I’d be able to type something right here at my kitchen counter and that a few minutes later, you’d be able to read it?

Sadly all of this new technology makes it a lot easier for conmen, thieves, and scammers to get ahold of our hard earned cash. Watch the video above to hear about one of the latest scams targeting older people.

Cases of fraud, scams, cons are on the rise.   Technological inventions and advancements are giving thieves and conmen new ways of getting people to part with our hard-earned money. Money can be wired electronically and so it is easy for thieves, fraudsters and conmen to pose as legit people whom you should make out a payment to. It is even sad that these people whose main aim is to take what does not belong to them, target the elderly people in the community. This is mostly because they so many older people are vulnerable, lonely, insecure and sometimes unfamiliar with new technologies.

That is why The Seniors Center created this blog: to search for constructive solutions to the most critical issues facing America’s senior citizens. Through, we offer educational programs about scams, frauds, and cons targeting senior citizens —  and the best ways to avoid becoming victims.

How to Prevent elder Fraud

There are a number if ways in which older people can avoid falling into the hands of fraudsters, conmen and thieves.

  1. Avoid giving out Information or money based on an email.

Phishing emails is a common thing where someone sends emails randomly and those that reply back become victims of fraud, or scams. They draft messages and disguise them to look like they are from a genuine site. They then demand to be paid money maybe as a bill or for some other use. Before sending money to anyone just confirm the information received on mail with a phone call or any other form of communication for authenticity.

  1. If possible seek the services of a trusted Financial advisor

As we age, our memory suffers and new technologies come forth. This definitely affects our financial decisions and most fraudsters count on that for their plans to succeed. That way if you need to make an unauthenticated payment, the financial advisor can easily check out for the red flags. Take it as a double security check to protect you.

  1. Always authenticate information received on phone before sending money

Unless it is someone you know and trust, you should always countercheck and ensure that the person on phone is who they say they are.

  1. Prepare necessary legal documents in advance

Some of the most important documents include power of attorney, which appoints someone or some people who will act on your behalf when need arises. It will be hard for any fraudster, conman or even thief to successfully get his way through these people as appointed by you.

Wrap Up

While only 35 percent of American population is over 50, 57% of all fraud is fraud victims are 50 or older. This shows that older Americans are the most vulnerable hence targeted by fraudsters, creating awareness is the best way of combating this statistic.

Reverse Mortgage – Is it a Good Deal for You?

You may have seen ads on tv where some former tv star is selling reverse mortgages as an easy way for seniors to get extra cash by using the equity in their home. Before you grab your phone and call the number on the screen, you should know what you are getting yourself into, whether it is a good idea for you and if someone is trying to scam you.

The Seniors Center has created this guide to help retired people make their best decisions about reverse mortgages.  Make sure to click the links at the bottom of this article for even more information.

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a type of home equity loan for older homeowners. Unlike a traditional mortgage where you make monthly payments until it is paid off and you end up owning the property free and clear, with a reverse mortgage, you take out a loan on

Cash, Calculator, Home Model

Reverse Mortgages can be a blessing for some Seniors, but they can also be a terrible mistake

the equity of your property and the lender pays you. The money you get is usually tax free and you don’t have to pay the money back as long as you live in your home. If you die, sell the home or move out, you, your spouse (unless he/she is on the mortgage), or your estate must repay the loan, which might mean selling the house. The money can be used to pay medical bills, pay down an existing mortgage, for added income or for a costly repair.

Types of Reverse Mortgages

  1. Single-purpose reverse mortgages – Are offered by some state and local governmental agencies and some non-profit organizations and must be used for a specific purpose, such as to pay taxes or for home improvements, as specified by the lender. It is the least expensive option.
  2. Proprietary reverse mortgages – Are backed by the company that offers it. This is a good option if you have a very high appraised value and a small or no mortgage because you may qualify for more funds.
  3. Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) – are federally-insured and backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). They may be used for any purpose.

Proprietary and HECM reverse mortgages are expensive and there are high upfront costs. How much you can borrow will depend on the type of reverse mortgage you choose, your age, the appraised value of your home, current interest rates and a financial assessment of your ability to pay property taxes and homeowner’s insurance (including flood insurance if you are in a flood zone). You must also maintain your property and pay utility bills and HOA dues, if applicable.

You can elect to get a single disbursement (if you have a fixed rate loan), fixed monthly cash advances for as long as you live in your home, fixed monthly cash advances for a specified time, a line of credit you can draw on or a combination of monthly payments and a line of credit.

Typically, you can take up to 60% of the limit in the first year and there are limits thereafter depending on how much you owe on an existing mortgage. How much you can borrow depends on your age, the value of the home, the interest rate and the lesser of appraised value or the HECM FHA mortgage limit of $679,650.

Qualifications for a Reverse Mortgage

  1. The youngest borrower must be 62 or older
  2. You must own your home outright or have a small mortgage and it must be your primary residence.
  3. You must not be delinquent on any federal debts or property taxes or hazard premiums.
  4. You must pass a credit check and lenders will evaluate your income, assets and monthly living expenses.
  5. Your home must meet FHA property standards and flood requirements.
  6. You can’t owe more than the value of your home regardless of how much you borrow and if the balance is less than the value of your home at the time of repayment, you or your heirs keep the difference.
  7. If you are married but your spouse is not on a HECM, and you die or move out permanently, your spouse can stay in your home as long as he/she is listed in the HECM documents as your spouse. Your spouse will not get any of the proceeds, however, and must maintain the home, pay taxes and insurance as long as he/she stays in the home.
  8. If you are in the hospital or a rehab center for longer than 12 months, the loan will become due and payable, which could result in foreclosure, as can defaulting on property charges, property taxes, maintaining property insurance, HOA fees, etc.
  9. If you are the heir to the estate and the last surviving parent dies, you assume responsibility for the future of the reverse mortgage. You may sell the home or purchase it for 95% of its appraised value.

Costs of a Reverse Mortgage

  1. The homeowner pays the cost of having the home appraised.
  2. Closing costs are higher than for a conventional mortgage and are based upon your home’s value.
  3. There are origination fees (which can be costly), mortgage insurance premiums, third party costs for title search, inspections, recording fees, mortgage taxes and servicing fees.
  4. As you get money over time, interest is added to the balance you owe each month, and this can add up.
  5. Unless you have a fixed rate variable reverse mortgage, the rates are tied to a financial index and the market and can go up. Interest rates are usually higher than for a traditional mortgage.
  6. Reverse mortgages can use up the equity in your home and you may have little to leave your heirs.

Reverse Mortgage Scams

Unscrupulous salespeople who are trying to sell you home improvements or tell you that you need a new roof or a repair you cannot afford, or your homeowner’s insurance won’t cover it, might suggest a reverse mortgage.

Some reverse mortgage salespeople try to induce you to take one out in order to buy an annuity or long-term care insurance, even though, in some cases, it is illegal to require you to purchase products in order to get a reverse mortgage.

Sometimes, a financial planner or investment advisor tries to convince seniors to buy financial products they don’t need and to take out a reverse mortgage to pay for them, or someone who has your power of attorney might take one out in your name and then divert the proceeds.

Unscrupulous realtors convince seniors to take out a “HECM for purchase” so they can buy a lower-cost home without having to put money down, and then divert the proceeds.

If you think you have been scammed or have second thoughts, you have at lease three business days after the closing tocancel the deal for any reason without penalty.


A reverse mortgage may be a good option for you, but you need to do your homework. Learn the facts. Good online resources are,, and

Famed New York socialite and philanthropist, Brooke Astor, robbed of millions in America’s most high-profile guardianship abuse case

In 2008, Tony Marshall was convicted on 14 counts of theft, grand larceny, and conspiracy relating to the financial exploitation of his own mother, Brooke Astor, widow of William Vincent Astor, president of the Vincent Astor Foundation, and legendary patroness of New York City.

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Upon her marriage to Vincent in 1953, Brooke readily engaged in the family tradition that has made “Astor” a household name for over a century: funneling their massive real estate fortune into charitable organizations, honorable causes, and arts and education projects all over their hometown of NYC.

Vincent and Brooke, in particular, gave astounding amounts of money away.  Through the Vincent Astor Foundation, Brooke made grants to the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rockefeller University, Cornell University Medical College, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

After Vincent’s death, Brooke continued on to forge a reputation as New York’s undisputed queen of philanthropy.  In 1996, New York Landmarks Conservancy declared her a “living landmark” for her contributions to the city.

But nearing her 100th birthday, Brooke’s health began to deteriorate.  Despite being in excellent physical health for most of her life, Alzheimer’s Disease started her down an undeniable path of mental decline, opening a door to her son, his wife, and their associates to prey on her wealth through guardianship.

While Brooke struggled to recall what happened from one day to the next, Tony exploited his mother to the tune of $14 million.  He made outrageous charges to her account, sold incredibly valuable pieces of art in her personal collection, altered her will to inherit her estate, and even persuaded her to give him a beloved property (which he then billed her to maintain).  Several of these maneuvers broke bequests she had made to leave her assets with charities.

Though Marshall eventually paid the price for his crimes in court, the Brooke Astor case remains America’s most publicized senior guardianship abuse case.

Court-Appointed “Guardians” Put Seniors In Assisted Living, Take Over Assets

The New Yorker has a devastating article about the Guardianship Business in Nevada where Court-appointed “guardians” are able to take control of the lives of older people, selling their assets and moving them into assisted living.

“The scheme is ingenious,” she told me. “How do you come up with a crime that literally none of the victims can articulate without sounding like they’re nuts? The same insane allegations keep surfacing from people who don’t know each other.”