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Rosendale Educates Malta Seniors on Fraud Prevention

 

October 30, 2019



State Auditor Matt Rosendale recently hosted an educational lunch and bingo game on fraud prevention with Malta-area seniors at the Great Northern Hotel.

As Montana’s Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, Rosendale leads a criminal justice agency that prosecutes “white collar” crimes like insurance fraud and investment scams. Rosendale said part of his mission as Auditor is also to educate the public and try to prevent fraud before it happens.

“Montana has the second-oldest population in the country on a per-capita basis. Seniors make up about 20 percent of our population, and they control about 70 percent of the wealth after a lifetime of work and saving,” Rosendale said.

“When you combine their assets with age-related illnesses and cognitive decline, seniors unfortunately become the top target for all sorts of fraud and scams. Most of the cases my office investigates and prosecutes involve victims over the age of 65. If someone is scammed out of money, it’s usually very difficult, if not impossible, to recover those funds. The best way we can protect people is to give them the knowledge and tools to not fall victim in the first place.”

Rosendale and Deputy Securities Commissioner Lynne Egan informed attendees about Ponzi schemes, lottery scams, churning in their investment accounts, unsuitable investments, the “grandparent scam,” and other problematic activities. Rosendale then led the group in a game of bingo, turning key topics and phrases from the presentation into game-winning answers to questions.

Rosendale’s event in Malta came on the heels of several other efforts his office has undertaken to prevent fraud. The State Auditor launched the Senior Financial Exploitation Task Force earlier this year in conjunction with the Attorney General’s office, Adult Protective Services, the Banking Division, and other agencies to create a multi-jurisdictional resource to share information and better address exploitation of Montana’s elders. The Task Force hosted an all-day training in Bozeman for local law enforcement and county attorneys from around the state earlier this month.

Rosendale also reports that a bill he got passed through the legislature in 2017 is already having a major impact for Montana seniors. The new law allows financial institutions to report transactions that they suspect to be exploitation to Rosendale’s office. The State Auditor’s office can then temporarily delay the transaction while it investigates. Rosendale says his office has already dealt with at least 30 potentially problematic transactions involving more than $5 million since that law went into effect.

Preventing fraud and exploitation is a team effort, Rosendale explained. He encouraged the entire community to be on the lookout and report suspected problems to his office.

“If you see someone who has withdrawn from their community, become too dependent on one individual for their finances or wellbeing, is having trouble paying bills or seems to be in financial distress, all of those things can be signs of exploitation. Please, give my office a call,” Rosendale said.

The State Auditor can be reached at (406) 444-2040 or at http://www.csimt.gov.

 

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