Financial Victimization of the Elderly

My Personal Testimony

Outline of Discussion

• Definition of Financial Victimization of Elderly

• Victim Characteristics and Risk Factors

• Types of Financial Exploitation

• Warning Signs/Red Flags

* What to do

* My Story, and how it differs from the Movie

Definition of Financial Exploitation of the Elderly

• Financial Exploitation is the theft or mismanagement of an elderly person's funds, real estate, investments, or personal property. occurs when a person misuses or takes the assets of a vulnerable adult for his/her own personal benefit.

• Financial Exploitation is underreported, under investigated and under prosecuted.

Characteristics of Victims of Financial Exploitation

Victims of Financial Exploitation--

• 54% of victims are widowed

* 58% of victims live alone in their own home.

• 83% of victims are white

• 92% of victims are female

* Majority of victims are over the age of 75

Risk Factors for Victims

• Isolation of elderly person

• Loneliness of elderly person

• Dependency of elderly person

• Close personal relationship with Abuser

Pure Financial Abuse Victims vs. Hybrid

Financial Abuse Victims

• Research shows that there are some differences in elder abuse cases where the elderly person was the victim of only financial exploitation versus where the elderly person was the victim of financial exploitation as well as neglect and/or physical abuse.

• Research also shows that there are differences in elder abuse cases between physically independent elderly persons versus physically dependent elderly persons.

• Physically independent persons could care for themselves, could drive, and were cognitively intact.

• Physically dependent persons had significant health problems, were unable to drive, or to some degree dependent on the care of others.

Type of Abuse Experienced

• Physically and Financially Independent elderly persons were most likely to experience purely financial exploitation—theft or fraud

• Physically dependent but financially independent elderly persons were most likely to experience some type of hybrid abuse—financial exploitation along with neglect or physical abuse.

• Hybrid Abuse tended to be long in nature and involve an on-going relationship with abuser. Abuse occurred on multiple occasions over a longe period of time.

Types of Financial Abuse

* Coercion though Neglect or violence—Abusers use threats of violence or withhold care or food if

elderly person does not provide money

• Draining of Joint Accounts—Abusers, usually a family member, withdraw large amounts of money

tor their own benefit without the consent of the elder person

• Frequent Demands for money—Abusers, usually family members, request money or loans


• Theft of property—Abusers trick elderly to sign over the deed to their property or take out

mortgages on their home.

• Mismanagement of Assets—Abusers use a power of attorney to rob the elderly person of his/her


• Investment Schemes—Abusers persuade the elderly person to invest money into dangerous

businesses and investments that are not suitable for an elderly persons risk tolerance.

• Street and Internet Scams—Con Artists often target the elderly to get them to make donations to

take charities or to gain their personal information for identity theft purposes

Types of Financial Abuse cont.

* identity Theft—Abusers use the victim's credit history to take out loans or obtain credit. Use victim's identity to obtain health care or when committing crimes.

* Real Estate Fraud—Methods vary, but may including tricking the elderly to signing over the deed to their home or take out a mortgage.

• Bequests and Life Insurance—Financial Abusers persuade elderly to make the abuser their heir or name abuser as beneficiary to life insurance policy.

* Lodgers and Roommates—Let family members or caretakers live with elderly person for free or in exchange for care taking duties.

* Power of Attorney Abuse—Abusers use of POA for personal benefit and not in the best interest of the elderly person.

Who are the Perpetrators

*90% of perpetrators are Known by the Victim

• family members—Family members commit financial abuse out of a sense of entitlement because they feel that they are the heir anyway and may be taking careof elderly parent and deserve the money

• Caretakers—may persuade elderly person to give them money or steal from the

elderly person.

* Neighbors—usually steal from the elderly person

* Professionals or trusted advisors—embezzle funds or unscrupulous billing practices

• Con Artists—usually befriend the elderly person, begin a romantic relationship, or persuade elderly person to invest in non-existent businesses or schemes.

*10 % of perpetrators are Strangers

Warning Signs of Financial Abuse

* sudden changes in bank account or banking practice, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the elder;

• the inclusion of additional names on an elder's bank signature card;

• unauthorized withdrawal of the elder's funds using the elder's ATM card;

• abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents;

* unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions

* substandard care being provided or bills unpaid despite the availability of adequate financial resources;

• discovery of an elder's signature being forged for financial transactions or for the titles of his/her possessions;

• sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to an elder's affairs and possessions;

• unexplained sudden transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family;

• provision of services that are not necessary;

• change of will or life insurance beneficiaries; and

• an elder's report of financial exploitation.

Report Suspected Abuse

• Notify Adult Protective Services

• File a Police Report

• National Center On Elder Abuse ( can point residents every state to elder abuse hotline.

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