Cracking down on elder abuse

May 29, 2008 6:06:01 PM PDT
The San Francisco Consortium of Elder Abuse Prevention estimates that nearly half the crimes against seniors involve some form of financial exploitation.

Too often it is the most vulnerable that are the likely targets of these perpetrators. City leaders issued a public cry for help to stop this growing abuse.

Eighty-year old Ho Ping Tang lives alone in a small studio apartment in San Francisco.

She's been targeted not once, not twice but three times by individuals looking to take advantage of her.

"I am very, very scared for this whole thing," said Tang.

The first time, someone posing as a relative phoned her, gained her trust and succeeded in getting several hundred dollars from her.

The second time, a woman called to say she won the lottery and told her she needed her social security, credit card and bank account information to wire her the supposed "winnings."

The third time, someone posing as a family friend knocked on her door and tried to gain entry into her apartment.

The scammers succeeded the first time. But "Auntie Tang," as she likes to be called, was too smart to be fooled again.

"I Think they are trying to get the money from her by using her identity," said Sean Do from the San Francisco District Attorneys Office Elder Abuse Unit.

Do works with the elder abuse unit at the San Francisco District Attorneys Office.

After Miss Tang was fooled the first time, he taught her how to avoid being scammed again.

7 On Your side asked her if the scammers made her angry.

"No, Why I angry? Why, why I angry? I never, I never angry," said Tang.

Auntie Tang doesn't get angry, but she speaks her mind.

That's why she spoke at the public awareness rally at City Hall organized by the Consortium of Elder Abuse Prevention.

"Unfortunately the elderly are sometimes very trusting. They've often isolated," said Heidi Li from the Consortium of Elder Abuse Prevention.

Tang was joined at Thursday's rally by San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong and District Attorney Kamala Harris. A new law just passed that would allow DA's to prerecord the testimony of elderly victims.

"Often the predators will expect and take advantage of seniors with the expectation the senior will not remember, or will be frail physically to come to court," said Harris.

A suspect is being held on $500,000 bail at San Francisco County Jail, accused of bilking Tang and six other people. Ken Hua faces 14 felony counts and if convicted, he could get up to 10 years in prison.


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