A couple of years ago as I waited in line at a grocery store, I looked down the line and saw an elderly man at the register looking for his money to pay for groceries. I was shocked to see bruises on his face and Band-Aids on his head. The cashier asked him what had happened. The elderly man replied that he had recently been assaulted and had his wallet stolen. To his knowledge, the perpetrators had not yet been apprehended. I was appalled as I listened to what had happened and the question that came to mind was What can I do to prevent this from happening to others?
The scenario above is a blatant example of crime—more specifically elder abuse. June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It is a day for us to come together as a society and to raise awareness of our elders who are or could be susceptible to abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. I have met many anti-financial crime professionals who are expanding elder abuse awareness from their financial institutions to their communities and partnering with law enforcement (LE) to bring training to their respective neighborhoods. The cover article: The Rising Menace of Elder Financial Abuse, written by Michelle Triggiani, gives examples, ideas and demonstrates the difference each one of us can make by not only training anti-money laundering (AML) professionals about elder exploitation, but also bringing awareness and training to our communities. Triggiani states: “This is not a victimless crime. These victims are ashamed and worried that by reporting the incident, their loved ones will think they are no longer able to handle their own financial affairs.” We have a responsibility to assist in removing this stigma and educating elders and those around them on how to look for red flags that could lead to elder financial exploitation.
The adage diamonds are a girl’s best friend—or in this case, a money launderer’s best friend—is illustrated in the article Counterfeit Jewelry—Spotting a Fake. Diamonds and precious stones are used by financial criminals to store their ill-gotten gains and for money laundering. Paired with counterfeit jewelry, criminals uncover a gold mine (pardon the pun) where they can produce even more profits. The author goes on to explain what steps can be taken to spot the fake and possibly uncover a counterfeit empire.
In its ninth year, the LE edition contains articles discussing imposter syndrome as it relates to LE and interview tips for transitioning to the private sector. Another article focuses on legal restitution for banks that are victims of crime and how banks usually write off these losses; however, could the fraud and AML departments of these banks make a difference through the creation of their own financial intelligence units? Also, with the creation of the JPM Coin, is all crypto created equal? What is the difference between it and other cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin? Read an informative interview with Hiroshi Ozaki, director of the AML/counter-terrorist financing (CTF) policy office of the Financial Services Agency in Japan, where he discusses emergent AML/CTF threats and what he conceives the anti-financial crime landscape will look like in five years.
There are many more articles to be discovered and read in this edition. I also would like to encourage everyone to cast their votes by July 31 for the ACAMS Today Article of the Year and for the ACAMS AML Professional of the Year awards by visiting: https://www.acamsconferences.org/vegas/awards/.
Finally, I would like to end by saying: let us continue making a difference not only within our financial institutions, but also in our communities by spreading knowledge and awareness training in the fight against financial crime, and in this case, elder financial abuse.