Maine’s Office of Securities Announces Initiative to Combat Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation

State to Partner with University of New England’s Geriatric Education Center and National Experts to Provide Tools to Maine Health Care Practitioners

GARDINER – With new medical research showing that more than a third of Americans over the age of 71 having mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease that make them particularly susceptible to investment swindles and other financial abuse, Maine Securities Administrator Judith M. Shaw announced today that Maine is joining a national Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation (EIFFE) prevention program.

This unprecedented effort will educate an estimated 200 Maine medical professionals about how to spot an older patient who may be particularly vulnerable to investment fraud and financial exploitation and then to refer these at-risk patients to state securities regulators and adult services professionals for assistance.

“With the senior population in Maine expected to double in the next 15 years, it is critical that we combine strong enforcement actions to punish investment criminals with effective education and prevention,” Administrator Shaw said. “Regulators know that when it comes to protecting older investors, it is essential to take action before the money is gone.”

Under the new EIFEE program, Maine will work with nationally-recognized experts in geriatric education and fraud prevention to train physicians and other health care professionals in utilizing a simple screening tool to identify patients at increased risk of becoming victims of investment fraud. Based on a successful pilot program in Texas, the national EIFFE prevention program represents a collaboration between the Investor Protection Trust (IPT), the Investor Protection Institute, the North American Securities Administrators Association, and the National Adult Protective Services Association in cooperation with leading U.S. medical associations. Maine is one of more than 20 states participating in the program.

The University of New England Geriatric Education Center (UNE-MGEC) at the University of New England (UNE) will play a central role in identifying appropriate venues to facilitate the delivery of the program to health care professionals through Maine. The EIFEE program is funded in Maine and other states by grants and involves no state revenue. The grants, administered by the Investor Protection Trust, are from a 2003 multi-state settlement of enforcement actions brought against several large investment firms.

Judith A. Metcalf, Director of UNE’s MGEC said, “We are delighted to be partnering with the Office of Securities to make this clinically-grounded continuing medical education program available to physicians and other health care professionals who work with older adults. Many aspects of normal aging and disease can contribute to older adults’ vulnerability to investment fraud and other financial abuse. This program provides an innovative new approach to reduce victimization.”

Governor Paul R. LePage voiced his support for voluntary educational programs like EIFFE that help protect Maine’s most vulnerable citizens. “When a senior loses his or her life savings as a result of financial fraud, it is a tragedy not only for the victim but also for families and local communities. Greater awareness and education are the keys to reducing elder financial abuse.”

For additional information about this new initiative, health care professionals and others can contact Maine’s Office of Securities by calling 1-877-624-8551 (TTY 1-888-577-6690). Consumers wishing to check an investment adviser, salesperson or investment product can also call the Office, visit the agency’s website (www.investors.maine.gov), or write to Maine Office of Securities, 121 SHS, Augusta, ME 04333-0121.

The Office of Securities is part of Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through the regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine. Consumers can learn more about the Department online at http://www.maine.gov/pfr.

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