The Securities and Exchange commission held a roundtable on October 3 to discuss how best to combat elder investor fraud. Professor Nicole Iannarone was a member of the panel on the "Intersection of Health, Wealth, and Advocacy." Iannarone and other experts in neuroscience, advocacy and education discussed the factors that contribute to the exploitation of elders. The panel provided strategies for protecting investors by addressing these factors.
Iannarone discussed the difficulty of balancing fraud prevention education with the desire to encourage people to seek help with their finances:
So I think about financial exploitation and define it a little bit differently. I don't focus so much on what is the motive of the individual who is a perpetrator, but instead what is the impact on the individual investor. And that being the case, I see financial exploitation as actions that are taken that harm the financial well-being of an individual. In thinking about how we address that and the interaction between prevention and education, there's some more balancing we need to do. If there is a major focus on education [and] prevention, we often have harmed individuals who think "I must not have done a good enough job in investigating this. This is my fault. There's not really going to be [anything] that can be done about this because I should have done something else." So continuing to understand and focus on the tension between, on the one hand, of saying it's important to get help with your finances, and you should trust the individual, and on the other hand, saying you should do a lot of research and you should be [aware] of what you are getting into, creates a a little conflict, that I think we want to try and reconcile as best as possible.
Nicole Iannarone is a recent addition to the faculty at Kline School of Law, and has frequently testified before the SEC on issues of investor fraud and securities disputes.