Bryan Cohen Oct. 3, 2013, 3:28pm

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the launch of an investment fraud prevention initiative Wednesday meant to help seniors identify potential rip-offs and scams before they happen.

The "Smart Seniors, Smart Investors - Don't Get Scammed" initiative will focus on financial and investment fraud targeting older New Yorkers. The initiative will aid seniors in identifying warning signs, learning how to avoid being taken advantage of and where to look for help after being victimized.

"We're all at risk of becoming victims of investment fraud," Schneiderman said. "Losing money on a bogus investment can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, older adults, who are often targeted by con artists, are at special risk. This educational push is aimed at empowering New York seniors with information that will help them spot a scam before they are scammed."

Schneiderman's office kicked off the event on Wednesday during a community forum for seniors at Harlem's Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging at Hunter College in Manhattan. The program was the first of 11 events scheduled throughout the state during the next five weeks.

The 2011 MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse found that the annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse was at least $2.9 billion. Another recent report found that for each reported case of elder abuse, more than 20 cases go unreported.

"Fraudsters may buy you lunch or invite you to a free seminar, or they may belong to your church or favorite community organization - and they use that association to get you to trust them," Schneiderman said. "That's what Bernie Madoff did. My 'Smart Seniors, Smart Investors' program is an important tool that we are deploying to protect older New Yorkers. I encourage seniors, and their children and their neighbors, to get involved - and get 'Smart.'"

Schneiderman's office is running the campaign in partnership with the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging at Hunter College, Lifespan of Greater Rochester, the AARP and the Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale.

Since taking office, Schneiderman has committed to protecting seniors and fighting elder abuse.

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