Crimes against the elderly are nothing new. Baby boomers are now nearing retirement and represent the fastest growing segment of economy. Unfortunately, few recognize that this population is uniquely vulnerable to financial exploitation. According to Investor Protection Trust, one in 5 Americans over the age of 65 has already been victimized.
Actor Mickey Rooney recently testified before Congress and admitted that he was the victim of financial fraud – by family members. Although he refused to go into details about his ordeal, a restraining order was issued last month against Rooney’s stepson and daughter.
Abuse by family members is one of the all-too-common secrets of crimes against the elderly. Family members frequently steal money and sometimes pain medications from elderly parents or grandparents. They aren’t the only ones committing crimes against older Americans. Caregivers, unscrupulous contractors and neighbors are frequent opportunists.
Why are the elderly at such a high risk? Many crimes are committed against those with failing memory. Often the victims are confused. Sometimes, the victims know what happened but are too embarrassed or ashamed to report the crime. They fear that if they call police they will lose their independence or risk being placed in a nursing home.
Who are most at risk?
- Those who are socially isolated
- Those financially responsible for an adult child
- Those with chemical dependency problems
- Those with a history of depression
- Those suffering from dementia or mental illness
- Those dependent on another for care and support
If you know someone at risk, ask him or her these questions:
- Are you having trouble paying bills?
- Do you understand the bills you are receiving?
- Do you think you “loan” or give out more money that you can afford?
- Is anyone pressuring you for money?
- Does anyone have access to your account?
Don’t just take their word for it, if you are the least bit suspicious; ask to look at their bills and bank statements. If you suspect fraud, call the police. If the amount of fraud is significant, consider hiring a lawyer experiences with elder abuse issues. Contacting the National Crime Victim Bar Association is a great place to look.
Think it won’t happen to your family? Just before my mother moved to an assisted living facility, a local contractor charged her $7500 to paint 2 and a half walls of a small TV room. Nothing fancy, just a quick count of paint and a couple hours work
It happens everyday.
Mahany Law is a national boutique law firm headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you or someone you know is the victim of elder abuse, call us. We take crimes against the elderly very seriously – Attorney Brian Mahany is a former prosecutor, police officer and a board member of the Kennebec County Senior Triad in Augusta, Maine.
We know that you have many choices when selecting a law firm. Our lawyers are not afraid of nursing homes or big insurance companies. We also know how to firmly but delicately respond to abusive family members. There are many lawyers out there that advertise for clients – many of these lawyers rely on quick settlements to keep their overhead low. We are different; ours is not a volume practice and every client is treated like a friend. We rely on referrals and that means keeping all of our clients informed, satisfied and achieving excellent results.
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