AGE CONCERN says sex workers are blackmailing and exploiting elderly men in New Zealand.
Canterbury community health nurse Kerry Howley told The Press newspaper that she had worked with victims of elder abuse for six years and had heard a number of stories about the issue.
Victims often only spoke up when they became desperate.
Howley said a 72-year-old had been using the services of a prostitute who one day knocked on his door and demanded child support, claiming she was carrying his baby.
He said he could not physically be the father of the child, and when the woman was approached with a demand for a paternity test, she withdrew the claim.
A 68-year-old who befriended a prostitute lost almost all his money over a couple of years as the woman knew where he kept his spare key, taking his money, pain medication and even furniture.
A 79-year-old was threatened by a prostitute claiming gang affiliations if he did not hand over money for two visits a day.
“He had quite a nice little nest egg of over $100,000 and now it’s all gone,” Howley told The Press.
“He would have been right for retirement if this woman hadn’t come along and forced him to give it all away under influence and threats.”
He went to Age Concern and the police were contacted, but he is afraid to take things further.
“He is afraid if we stir the pot or talk to her that something terrible will happen to him so now he is suffering in silence and there is nothing we can do about it.”
She said elder abuse was normally carried out by family members, but “opportunistic” strangers also took advantage, some of whom manipulated lonely elderly men who wanted affection and companionship.
Howley said she was aware of five other men who were exploited by prostitutes and who only came forward once they had reached crisis point.
“It is so humiliating for them to speak out that I don’t think we will ever know the full extent of this issue.”
New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective regional co-ordinator Anna Reed said the issue was not common, but she was aware of it.
One older man had contacted the collective seeking help when a prostitute started to blackmail him for money.
Others regarded false claims of pregnancy.
“Unfortunately there are unscrupulous people in all walks of life. It is rare, but it has happened and it is not just confined to the sex industry.”