Financial Elder Abuse: San Diego County Couple Cheats the Elderly

Police have arrested an Escondido couple for cheating elderly victims throughout San Diego County in a financial scam that garnered $1.5 million. According to police, Janet and Ronald Reiswig cheated 30 people in the county, most of them senior citizens. The Reiswigs have been charged with 79 criminal counts, including elder abuse and fraud.

According to reports, the couple advertised a certificate of deposit investment product that they claimed would return between 7 and 7.5%. In meetings at their offices, the Reiswigs persuaded their mostly elderly clients to write checks that they promised would be invested. They weren’t. Instead the victims were sent phony CDs from the Reiswig’s company Global Reserve BT, and the couple then used the money for their personal use.

One East County woman, who is 76, said Friday she lost $63,000 to the alleged investment scam. It was nearly everything she had saved, after a lifetime of setting aside $25, maybe $50, a month. Now, she said, she is reduced to living on her Social Security check, which is less than $1,000 a month, to cover gas, food and rent. Money is so tight, she said, that she quit going to church most days of the week because gas is too expensive.

Financial or fiduciary elder abuse is a growing problem in our society. As fewer people save sufficiently for retirement, those looking for ways to catch up or get ahead may find themselves in the grasp of unscrupulous investment advisers who offer generous investment returns that “look to good to be true.” It goes without saying that anyone investing in an investment product that is “new” or “different” than what is conventional or widely accepted should seek a second opinion. The same goes for the advisors that offer returns that far exceed what the current market is offering.

As for the Reiswigs, police are asking those who think they, or someone they know may have been victims to contact investigator Joseph Cargel in the district attorney’s office in San Diego at (619) 531-4040.