On average, I get one to three calls a day from the public seeking advice about elder abuse. Fortunately, only about 20 percent of the calls involve matters needing my office’s involvement. The rest are from people that see “elder abuse” in our name and hope we can help with their situation. It is a learning experience for me as I research various resources available to seniors. (These are real calls with minor facts changed to protect the identity.)

 Hi. My wife has spent over $30,000 on a gifting program. She doesn’t think it is a scam but she has given these people a lot of money and hasn’t gotten anything in return. I think it is pyramid scam.”

Pyramid/Gifting Scams are considered investment frauds and can be reported to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) office at 1-877 HI-SCAMS (1-877-447-2267). Additionally, you can report it to the Financial Crimes Unit at the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) at 808-732-3609.

I want to report a timeshare company that signed up my dad. He didn’t know what he was signing and wants to get out of the contract. He is on a fixed income and should have never been qualified to make the purchase.”

For complaints against individual companies, DCCA’s Consumer Protection Division (808-587-4272) can investigate claims and seek civil restitution in certain instances.

We just discovered that my brother stole $20,000 from my dad, but he doesn’t want to do anything about it. What can we do?”

This is a common call we get, and unfortunately, if the victim — the parent — doesn’t want to prosecute, law enforcement can’t really get involved (in most situations).

Can someone from your office speak to our group about elder abuse?”

Yes. We have done over 400 presentations to various senior groups and organizations in the past 10 years.

 “I live in the mainland and just discovered my father gave over $400,000 to two men he hired to do some house repairs. He says they are nice men who bring him lunch when they stop by. He doesn’t believe they are con men and doesn’t want the police involved.”

This is similar to the situation above concerning the son stealing from the dad. If he doesn’t want to prosecute the matter, the police can do very little.

What we see happen a lot is that the children will berate the parent to the point that the parent will stop speaking to the child. This then allows the con artist free rein to continue taking advantage of the senior. I caution children to adopt a non-judgement tone with their folks in order to get more information regarding the situation. In this situation, the daughter was able to convince her dad that these men didn’t have the father’s best interest at heart, and he allowed law enforcement to get involved.

To report suspected elder abuse, contact the Elder Abuse Unit at 808-768-7536  |  ElderAbuse@honolulu.gov