FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION OF THE ELDERLY

Last post I mentioned the various issues explored on this blog.  I will also post elder abuse news stories, elder law changes and recent cases involving elder abuse. There is one issue that is a growing problem among the elderly. That issue is financial exploitation.  This is also known as elder financial abuse.

What is financial exploitation of the elderly or elder financial abuse?  Simply put, it is when a person takes money or property from an elderly person for their own financial benefit.  In the state of Florida, its law (FSS 825.103) “states that when someone maliciously takes the property of an “elderly person,” they are committing exploitation”.  What makes this crime so serious is that the person committing this crime exploits the elder’s dependency on him/her.  Joe Roubicek (2013) in his book, Disposing of the Elderly for Profit (a must read), he mentions that the difference between exploitation and scamming is that “scammers prey on greed, exploiters prey on need.”

It is estimated that five million elders may be the victims of financial exploitation annually. The perpetrators vary. Most of these incidents are by family members who are in daily contact with the victim and estranged family members who suddenly are interested in the victim’s well-being.

According to http://www.ncea.aoa.gov, “older individuals may be targeted merely because they possess more assets, such as savings, annuities and retirement accounts, stocks and bonds, insurance policies, and property than younger people. Those with cognitive impairments, mental health conditions, or physical disabilities may be dependent upon others (family members, friends, formal and informal caregivers, or court appointed representatives) for assistance in making financial decisions or carrying out daily transactions, and therefore may be even more vulnerable to theft, exploitation or undue influence.”

One point that should be noted is that when a parent has been estranged from his children, he/she hopes that at least in their last years there could be a reconciliation. Unfortunately, many children use this to victims their parents. Parents often discover this too late.

According to http://www.kcrlegal.com, here are some examples of elder financial exploitation:

  • Preventing the elder from having access to his/her money and bank accounts
  • Forging the elder’s signature on checks and other documents
  • Adding an additional name to the elder’s bank account and withdrawing funds without permission of the elder
  • theft of money or property
  • Theft of ATM cards or credit cards
  • Deceiving or forcing an elder to sign a financial document, such as a will, a loan application or some other documents Selling an elder unnecessary or overpriced goods or services
  • Stealing an elder’s identity or financial data in order to steal the elder’s money or property
  • Deceiving an elder to invest in an overpriced scam
  • Deceiving an elder into borrowing money on a home with terms that guarantee he or she will default and lose equity
  • Improperly using an elder’s power of attorney or conservatorship.
  • Cashing checks without permission.

There are also other signs as well such as bank statements and canceled checks no longer come to the elder’s home, unpaid bills, notices to discontinue utilities or eviction notices, unusual activity in the older person’s bank accounts including large, unexplained withdrawals, frequent transfers between accounts, or ATM withdrawals, absence of proof about financial arrangements and outrageous explanations  given about the elderly person’s finances by the caregiver.

I will delve further into this issue next week and give some reasons why this is such a growing problem.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them.

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