by Brian Mahany
Theft and embezzlement is never justified. Stealing from the elderly is particularly disturbing. Thanks to a routine audit, one bank teller is behind bars for ripping offelderly customers. Police in New Iberia, Louisiana charged Brandy Rogers with bank fraud, forgery, identity theft and theft from an aged person.
Cops say Rogers looked for older or feeble clients who opened accounts at the branch where she worked. Then, over a period of months, she would take money little by little from the customer’s account.
Rogers is alleged to have taken $280,000 before being caught. Unfortunately for her, bank fraud is a federal crime – if convicted she could face decades behind bars.
Elder fraud is a serious problem in the U.S. The first baby boomers turned 65 last month and now represent the fastest growing segment of our population. Unfortunately, that has created a growth industry for crooks and cons.
In the case of Rogers, banks have fidelity bonds. The victims should recover their money with little problem. If anything, the bank probably wants to avoid the negative publicity and will restore the money without a lawsuit being filed.
Many other victims of elder fraud are not so lucky. Every day across the U.S., caregivers steal from their patients, con men swindle the elderly out of their life savings and even family members sometimes force their elderly parents to sign new wills that change beneficiaries. Proving these cases can sometimes be difficult.Many cases are never even reported.
Before my mother passed away –she was in her 80’s and suffering from dementia – a handyman attempted to charge her $7000 to repaint a small 10 by 10 TV room.Professional house painters charge less to paint an entire home.Would that same contractor quote me such a ridiculous price? Of course not.
Courts and legislatures are beginning to take crimes against the elderly seriously.Most states have passed laws that enhance criminal penalties if the victim is above a certain age.
How bad is the problem? The Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups says that last year 35,000 Wisconsin seniors were financially exploited.
What can you do? First, spend time with older relatives and friends. Seniors who live alone and are isolated tend to be much more at risk.Once victimized, many are simply too embarrassed to come forward and admit to others that they have been defrauded.
With permission, of course, examine their bills, credit card statements and check books. Unexplained checks to home care workers, multiple checks to charities, and outrageous charges for things like driveway sealing and chimney cleaning are signs that a crime has been committed.
If problems persist, consider having the court appoint a financial guardian to manage their affairs. The guardian can be a trusted family member.
Growing old presents many challenges. Getting ripped off should not be one of them.
If you or a loved one is a victim, report the incident immediately. Chances are that your actions will prevent another person’s parent or grandparent from being a victim. If the loss is substantial, consider hiring a lawyer specializing in fraud and asset recovery.
Recovering money mailed to Nigeria in a contest scam is probably impossible but recovering from a crooked stockbroker or shoddy contractor isn’t.
Mahany & Ertl is a full service boutique law firm concentrating in asset recovery, fraud recovery and tax matters.We also represent senior citizens who have been physically neglected or abused.Our offices are in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Our clients range from Maine to Hawaii.(Unless local, fraud cases are limited to losses of $100,000 or more, although chances are good that we can help you find an attorney in your area.) Physical abuse and neglect cases are limited to Wisconsin.
There is never any charge for an initial consultation and all calls are kept in confidence. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731.