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Posted by >>>>> on April 8, 2015



Lorna Garano, lornagarano@gmail.com, 510-280-5397

Peter Handel, peterlhandel@gmail.com, 510-280-5327

Elder mistreatment—ranging from physical abuse and neglect to financial fraud—is a silent epidemic in the US.

In THE CON GAME: A FAILURE OF TRUST, T.S. Laham exposes it and shows you how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

9781483417233_COVER.inddThe numbers are staggering. Experts estimate that between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 and older have been mistreated by someone in a trust relationship with them and that they often fall prey to financial abuse—only one in 25 cases of which are ever reported to authorities. Just as alarming, guardianships and conservatorships designed to help elders who can no longer look after their affairs are often poorly regulated and give unscrupulous actors the opportunity to fleece and abuse those in their care. In THE CON GAME: A FAILURE OF TRUST (paperback, November 2014) T.S. Laham presents an exhaustively researched and unsparing look at this quiet crisis and offers a primer on everything you need to protect yourself, your property, and your loved ones.

Laham is available for interview. She can also provide excerpts and a Q and A to run on your site or publication. Here is just some of what she can discuss:


The trouble with conservatorships and guardianships for elders who can no longer manage their own affairs:

  • These programs are subject to no federal oversight and state laws vary.
  • Conservatorship is the most restrictive form of court intervention and it may deny you all, or some, of your freedoms indefinitely.
  • No particular qualifications are required to become a conservator or a guardian. In most states the only prerequisite is that you are mentally competent.
  • Courts usually appoint a family member as conservator, but they are often ill-equipped to carry out their responsibilities. One study found that fewer than 20 percent of courts furnished guardians with sufficient direction.
  • Just a handful of states prohibit convicted felons from becoming guardians.
  • Families and friends are often helpless to protect loved ones from an abusive guardian.
  • Few restrictions protect an elderly ward from an unscrupulous guardian, according to a report titled “Abuses in Guardianship of the Elderly and Infirm: A National Disgrace” produced by the US House Permanent Select Committee on Aging.

Act now to protect yourself later:

  • Understand alternatives to conservatorship/guardianship and make a smart decision about which options are the best for you.
  • Learn what you need to ensure that you remain in control of your medical decisions and your wishes are respected should you lose the ability to communicate them.
  • Discover estate planning musts.

What to do if an elderly loved one becomes a victim:

  • How best to work with Adult Protective Services (APS) and what you can expect if you file a complaint with them.
  • Understand which elders are greatest risk for abuse and exploitation.
  • Discover the critical agencies involved in intervening in and prosecuting elder abuse.
  • Learn about state laws that cover elder abuse.
  • Recognize the signs: Spin doctoring, isolating an elder, enhancing dependency are just a few of the typical tactics of an abuser.
  • Understand why elder abuse is often difficult to detect and learn the warning signs.

Scam detection 101: How to recognize some of the most common scams against the elderly:

  • Learn about rolling lab schemes, telemarketing fraud, charity contribution scams and other frauds commonly perpetrated against the elderly.
  • According to the National Center on Elder Abuse Bureau of Justice Statistics, financial exploitation represented 12.3 percent of reported elder abuse cases in 2012.
  • One in four seniors living in the US was a victim of elder financial exploitation at a total annual cost of more than $3 billion annually, according the Professional Fiduciary Association of California.
  • Over half of reported cases of elder financial exploitation were perpetrated by strangers, followed by family, friends, and neighbors.


Excerpt 1: “Perpetrators and victims.” 1,570 words. Offers a concise description of who is most likely to perpetrate crimes against the elderly, their most common tactics, and which seniors are most vulnerable to them.

Excerpt 2“Pros and Cons of Conservatorship.” 663 words. Offers a bullet list of pros and cons regarding conservatorship.

Excerpt 3: “Detecting and reporting elder mistreatment.” 2,543 words. Shows you how to recognize the signs of elder mistreatment and offers guidance for reporting it.


The Con Game: A Failure of Trust

by T.S. Laham | November 2014 | 267 pages

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4834-1723-3 | $24.95 | Paperback | Kindle | $7.99




Laham PhotoT.S. Laham is a writer, professor, and consultant. She has authored books and instructional resources and scripted audio and video products for commercial publishers. She teaches business at Diablo Valley College in the San Francisco Bay Area and lives in Oakland, CA.







  1. Why did you decide to write The Con Game: A Failure of Trust?
  1. You talk about both physical abuse and neglect and financial abuse in The Con Game. How widespread is each?
  1. Why it is so hard to detect abuse against the elderly and who is often responsible for it?
  1. Which older Americans are mostly likely to fall prey to abuse or financial fraud?
  1. Much of The Con Game is dedicated to exposing the problems associated with conservatorship (also called “guardianship”). First, tell us what purpose conservatorship is supposed to serve?
  1. Now, explain why conservatorship can lead to abuse and exploitation.
  1. In The Con Game you profile the Lyon family whose matriarch, Selma, was allegedly abused by family members. Can you tell us about this case and how typical is it of elder abuse cases?
  1. What is the “protection industry” and why do you say it has a dark side?
  1. You say that a conservatorship can strip people of their basic freedoms. So how can a person avoid a conservatorship and what are some of the alternatives to it?
  1. One of the major problems with end-of-life care is that so many people don’t prepare for the later years or the possibility of becoming unable to communicate their wishes. Why do you think this is, and what are a few things that you think everyone should do when they are young to lessen the chances that they will be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation in later years and to ensure that their wishes are respected?


“T.S. Laham gives us a powerful step-by-step examination of conservatorship.”

Gwen Boozé and Karen Anderson, Congress of California Seniors

“This book is an asset for anyone involved with or interested in elder mistreatment, or the practical legal resources solutions available to assist and protect the elder.”

Susan A. Katzen, Elder law and estate planning attorney

“A compassionate and true-life story that provides perspectives of an aging America and presents the formalities of estate planning and conservatorships. A must-read if you have or will have an elder adult under the care of family members or others.”

Tim Murphy, CPA, attorney, professor

“…I would recommend this book as a primer to other physicians and health care professionals who care for the elderly population.”

Mark Adlard, MD, Family practice physician

“Anyone who has an interest professionally or personally with the complexities of senior abuse and issues will find this book to be a great resource.”

Cliff H. Oilar, President, Back Home Senior Care

“You had me at the table of contents!”

Deborah Wright, Financial advisor

“The content of The Con Game is invaluable.”

Dr. Natalie Gelman, Clinical Psychologist

The Con Game is an eye-opener.”

Shana Yi, Marriage and family therapist

“T. S. Laham’s The Con Game is a testament to her comprehensive level of understanding on the subject matters addressed regarding elder care coupled by her compassion for underserved societies.”

Karla Garcia, Commercial banker and community volunteer


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