Elder Fraud Wars

Case Histories from an Enforcement Attorney


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About the Book

By recounting actual court cases, this book examines the multi-billion-dollar elder fraud industry, the special vulnerabilities of those it targets, and the ease and frequency with which it obtains hundreds of thousands of dollars per victim. It also reveals successful strategies for combating that industry and the important contributions to that effort by concerned bankers, doctors, reporters and others in the private sector.
The cases reveal an increasingly sophisticated global industry that targets each victim with a series of repeat “hits.” This tactic—criminals call it “reloading”—sets the elder fraud industry apart from groups that defraud younger individuals. Twelve key age-related fraud vulnerabilities are illustrated in the cases. So, too, are the scammers’ skills in mapping their target’s unique combination of vulnerabilities and then tailoring their narratives to exploit each one. Most of the cases highlight actual victims, scam artists or fraud fighters. Their individual stories range from inspiring and sometimes comical to frustrating and deeply disturbing. Readers with aging parents, law enforcement officials, medical professionals, members of the financial industry and others who work with older adults will find it particularly useful.

About the Author(s)

David Neil Kirkman is a former enforcement attorney with the North Carolina Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Division. During his three decades there, he battled a growing and increasingly sophisticated network of US-based and overseas fraud groups that target seniors with an assortment of scams. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

David Neil Kirkman
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 285
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8149-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3971-0
Imprint: Exposit Books

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Elder Fraud Industry Marches Through Town 1

Part One. Before We Even Called It “Elder Fraud”

 1. Will Garrett’s Morning Run 8

 2. Three Early Cases 11

 3. Generating Obsession: The Fire Alarm Salesman and Three Grandmothers 23

 4. Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams: The Cases of Mrs. B and Mrs. D 27

Part Two. Will, Bill and the War Against the Home Repair Fraud Gang

 5. “Something big and sinister” 36

 6. Road Trip to Rocky Mount 40

 7. Without Something Else, These Cases Were Going to Be Hell to Prosecute 45

 8. Special Agent Will Garrett Comes to Raleigh 48

 9. Tucker Seeks Out “the Colonel” 53

Part Three. Victim Mindsets and Vulnerabilities

10. Mrs. S and the Twins 58

11. As Little as $1400 Can Be Devastating 61

12. “I found the Colonel!” 63

13. Twelve Key Victim Vulnerabilities and One Myth 67

14. Our ­House-Mazza Posse Gets Mired in the Mud 72

15. Call the Doctor! 75

Part Four. Payoff

16. The AG Calls Channel 11 Troubleshooter Jennifer Julian 82

17. “We need to go check on the Colonel!” 86

18. “­Boom-Boom!!!” 92

Part Five. The Losses Are Seldom Just Financial

19. You Can’t Assign a Dollar Figure to It 96

20. “Reloading” and the Cycle of Fraud 100

21. Lewis the Elder Orphan 107

22. Will We Save the Elder Orphan? 113

23. George Love, Elder Fraud Fighter 116

Part Six. Judgment Day

24. “What were you trying to run on my grandmother yesterday?” 120

25. ­House-Mazza: “Soon, every day will be Saturday!” 123

26. “Frog” and the Habitual Felons 129

Part Seven. Going International

27. Whack-a-Mole Leads to the “Means and Instrumentalities” Approach 132

28. Canada Calls—FBI Special Agent Joan Fleming Answers 143

Part Eight. Miracles and Grace

29. On a Muggy July Afternoon … the McPhauls’ Case 154

30. Miracle Just Off US 1 North 162

31. McPhaul Miracle Postscript 169

Part Nine. Money Mules, “VAP” and Scam Jams

32. Charles and Miriam Parker 172

33. VAP and the Retired Fortune 100 Company Exec 183

34. Justice for the Parkers? 192

35. What Are Scientists Saying About All This? 197

36. We’re Scam Jammin’! 200

Part Ten. King Tommy Won’t Relinquish His Throne

37. Tommy C, King of the Driveway Paving Scammers 206

38. Tommy C Is Back 214

39. Cat and Mouse with Tommy C 220

40. Famous Last Words About Tommy C 225

Part Eleven. More and More

41. Romance Scams: What Percy Sledge Said 232

42. Threats 240

43. “Bahkah?” 245

44. Barker Wasn’t the Only One 252

45. Retired Fortune 100 Exec: The Rest of the Story 255

Conclusion: The Rewards of Fighting Elder Fraud 258

Chapter Notes 265

Bibliography 269

Index 273

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Quite frankly, I was not anticipating the book I read. I thought I would be treated to analytical, fact-filled case studies, with a foray or two into complicated legal issues. To my delight, from the very beginning I was captured by well-written narratives seasoned with vivid descriptive passages. As I read, I felt as if I were actually present with you on your investigative trips and at the legal planning sessions. The variety of episodes held my interest as I read, and I enjoyed the legal details almost as much as I enjoyed the stories you told.”—Charles Cornwell, English professor (retired), Davidson College

• “Kirkman provides engaging stories from his work on elder fraud cases. Elder Fraud Wars is a helpful resource for Elder Law practitioners. Kirkman’s writing style brings the issues to life and provides detailed case studies that are rarely found in legal literature. While Kirkman provides data to support his observations, the real value of the book is in the journalistic accounts that give a fuller picture of how elder fraud occurs and the complicated reasons as to why it is often successful.”—NC Bar Blog