Opinion

Fraud in any form | Editorial

Stephen J. Klos, who has been charged with 28 counts of security fraud in an alleged Ponzi scheme, does not appear like a con man or a crook. If he is proven guilty, Klos goes against the stereotype of the sleazy criminal, who circles his victims using the telephone or e-mails. Instead, he is any man — a well dressed, church-going, grandfatherly type. He is perhaps the last person one might assume is trying to bilk you of your money. Yet, promises of easy earnings, often hard to prove or substantiate, can sometimes be made believable with charm alone. Many victims of fraud and abuse are older folks, who live alone, perhaps, and can be taken in by someone who simply pays attention to them and offers help. Purveyors of fraud and abuse come in many forms.

This case of fraud is yet another cautionary tale for all of us. We want to believe that aging parents and grandparents who continue to live independently, despite growing limitations, are OK. We want to believe that they are as they always were: resourceful, in control and able to manage. Unfortunately, both young and old can get caught up in these situations, not because they are stupid, but because they trusted someone they should not have.

But there is help.

A first step is to call Betsy Zuber at Mercer Island Youth & Family Services. She is a trained professional regarding these and other issues involving vulnerable adults. Find her at www.mercergov.org, e-mail her at Betsy.Zuber@mercergov.org or call 275-7752.

The AARP Foundation and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office have formed a partnership to operate what is called the Fraud Fighter Call Center. The call center is a group of trained volunteers with tips, resources and information to help older adults protect themselves from fraud and abuse. Since 2006, the Call Center has helped more than 250,000 consumers.

If you have questions, or would like the Fraud Fighter Call Center to contact someone you care about, call 1-800-646-2283.

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