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People with Dementia | Targets for Elder Financial Abuse

Dementia and Elder Financial Abuse.jpg5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's Disease. About 670,000 of these Americans live in California.

Dealing with money in 2019 is far different than it was in 1999. Financial transactions occur at light speed. All these changes are challenging for elders with dementia. How do we keep them safe from elder financial abuse?

This group of people are vulnerable for a host of reasons - among them the declining ability to judge risk, living alone or in isolation, reticence to discuss financial issues, and a possible lack of self-awareness. It's said that "criminals target the elderly because that's where the money is." Patricia Boyle, lead author of a study on elders and financial fraud, advises that "families (should) always remain vigilant about the problem of elder fraud."

"She recommends the websites of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and AARP as offering helpful tips and guidance to seniors and their loved ones. AARP, for example, describes scams in which people pose as IRS agents."

So, we do see a growing consensus in our government, communities, and families that we can do more to protect vulnerable elders from financial exploitation. A few examples of how elders with dementia are defrauded across the United States follow:

August 2019. Santa Clara County, California.

"An elderly resident suffering from Alzheimer's Disease received approximately 40 phone calls from an unknown subject claiming to be an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation acting on behalf of Publisher's Clearing House. The subject told the victim he had won $8,500,000, a new Mercedes and a new house. The subject requested $1,950 in delivery fees for the winnings. The victim wired the funds to the subject via a Walmart-to-Walmart money transfer.

The subject is unknown and outstanding. SCPD advised the victim's family to block the subject's phone number. On 8/5/19 the victim's family advised SCPD the subject attempted to reach the victim an additional 34 times for $10,000 in taxes to cover the winnings. This case is on-going."

May 2019. Los Angeles, California.

The former business manager of Marvel Comic mastermind, Stan Lee, is charged with theft, embezzlement, forgery, and fraud against an elder adult and false imprisonment of an elder adult. Police say the business manager pocketed more than $262,000 from autograph sessions that Lee did in 2018.

May 2018. San Mateo, California.

An 82-year-old attorney is jailed after allegedly embezzling more that $460,000 from a 92-year-old woman with dementia and her disabled and dependent son. The attorney was sentenced to four years in state prison in January 2019 on convictions of felony elder fiscal abuse and one count of insurance fraud.

May 2018. San Diego, California.

A life insurance agent sold a $1.2 million annuity to a man with dementia and helped the victim's relative steal $700,000 in early withdrawals. The two were charged with 16 counts of grand theft, caretaker theft and forgery.

These are only a few recent examples of how people with dementia are vulnerable to the schemes and scams of wrongdoers. I'm concerned about the growing incidence of elder fraud. I've written two books about how seniors are taken as a result of financial elder abuse. My books - The Wolf at the Door and Alzheimer's, Widowed Stepmothers and Estate Crimes -are available to those who send me a written request at [email protected].

Our law firm, Hackard Law, focuses on estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation in California's major urban areas, including Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and Sacramento Counties.

We take substantial cases where we think that we can make a significant difference and there is a wrongdoer who can be made financially accountable for their wrongdoing or breach of duty. If you would like to speak with us about your case, call us at 916 313-3030. We'd like to hear your story.

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