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Tennessee Securities Division in effort to protect seniors from fraud

Tennessee Department of Commerce and InsuranceMultistate program will train medical staffers to detect abused elders

Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) Securities Division is participating in a multistate effort to partner with securities professionals in providing training to thousands of healthcare professionals to detect the financial abuse of elders, particularly seniors with cognitive impairment.   

“The Securities Division is excited to be participating in the Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program,” says TDCI Commissioner Leslie A. Newman. “This effort is crucial: Many of the victims of the securities scams investigated by my department are senior citizens and, unfortunately, some are extremely vulnerable to securities Ponzi schemes and other illegal investment.”

For example, in 2009, TDCI’s Securities Division permanently revoked the securities registration of Franklin, Tennessee, broker William Walter Spencer Sr., barred him from working in the industry in Tennessee and placed a lien on real estate he owned to benefit the victims he swindled through a Ponzi scheme. Many of Spencer’s victims were older members of his church.

TDCI’s Securities Division will provide educational materials to partners leading continuing education seminars for healthcare professionals and will provide support at those events, in addition to investigating reports of securities fraud made by apparent victims or their families.

A 2008 Duke University study concluded that about 35 percent of the 25 million people older than 71 in the United States have either mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease – conditions that make them especially vulnerable to financial exploitation, including investment fraud.

Other universities’ studies have concluded that cognitively impaired seniors are more likely to make financial errors or gamble with their finances.

Collaborating with Investor Protection Trust will be the Investor Protection Institute (IPI), the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) – of which the Tennessee Securities Division is a member – and the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) in cooperation with leading U.S. medical associations.

The other 23 participating states and jurisdictions are: Alabama; California; Colorado; Delaware; District of Columbia; Georgia; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kentucky; Michigan; Nebraska; North Carolina; New Jersey; New Mexico; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Puerto Rico; Utah; Vermont; and Washington.

The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/


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