Like many older Americans, Shazzi Felstein recently found herself in an unexpected financial bind. About a year ago, she noticed that her savings had dwindled. To her horror, she realized that her monthly Social Security check would not cover her rent-stabilized one-bedroom apartment in Chelsea and monthly expenses like utilities and food for much longer.
A former computer systems analyst, Ms. Felstein, 73, had always saved as much as she could and had enjoyed relatively stable finances. That changed in 2011, she said, when she lost about $80,000 in retirement savings after investing in a company that turned out to be guilty of fraud.
The owners of the Massachusetts-based Inofin Inc., a subprime auto loan company, swindled hundreds of investors, and the company entered into involuntary bankruptcy. Ms. Felstein has been unable to recoup her money, although the company’s founders pleaded guilty to fraud and were sentenced to jail.
“I felt very lost,” said Ms. Felstein, a former nationally ranked table tennis and Scrabble champion. “I have always paid my rent on time, and I knew if I didn’t do something, I wouldn’t be able to live here anymore.”
She thought about moving in with her sister in Florida, but knew it would put a strain on their relationship. A native New Yorker, Ms. Felstein has lived in the same apartment for almost 40 years and had no desire to move.
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