A financial assistant from Monterey, California, was sentenced to three years of probation for defrauding older clients of their money last month. In addition to the probationary period, Sandee Palmer Larkin, 65, will have to spend 120 days in jail. Because California has a high population of residents over the age of 65, instances of fraud and financial abuse like those committed by Larkin are all too common, financial elder abuse lawyers in Marin County say.
It was alleged that Larkin, the owner of Larkin Financial and Assistance Services, used her access to a client’s account to siphon extra money over the course of several months. She had been previously authorized to balance the client’s checkbook, pay any bills, and write checks on the account, including checks written to herself for her salary. It was further alleged that the victim, who is over the age of 65, ended up “paying” Larkin more money than the fiduciary had technically earned, thanks to Larkin’s fraudulent abuse.
Professional fiduciaries – are supposed to be licensed by the California Department of Consumer Affairs, but there is no record of Larkin having obtained a license. Because Larkin used her position as the victim’s financial manager to hide excess funds being paid, financial elder abuse attorneys in Marin County say that her actions constitute criminal elder abuse, and her sentence was related to the amount of money she stole from the victim.
In California, anyone over the age of 64 is considered an elder, and crimes against them can be criminal or civil. Criminal elder abuse occurs when a person within this age group is taken advantage of by another person or organization, either through theft, embezzlement, or fraudulent or forged transactions. In order to be charged with elder abuse, the perpetrator must know or should reasonably know that the victim is older. According to the Penal Code Section 368, anyone charged with criminal elder abuse in a crime that involves stolen property or goods more than $950, can face up to one year in a county jail, or four years in a state prison, and a fine of $2,500. For crimes involving less than $950 in stolen property, fraudsters could face a year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Civil elder abuse is covered under the state’s Welfare and Institutions Code, and occurs whenever a person takes, obtains fraudulently, or hides property—including bank accounts and assets—belonging to an older person, without permission or with intent to make fraudulent transactions. These abuses extend to instances where a person uses undue influence to pressure or convince an elderly person into allowing them access to funds or other assets.
At the Evans Law Firm, a financial elder abuse law firm serving Marin County and several other areas near San Francisco, our attorneys work to combat all cases of elder abuse, financial and otherwise. If you or your loved ones have become victims of fraudulent and abusive behavior, contact an Evans Law attorney at 415-441-8669 or www.evanslaw.com to discuss your options and protect yourself in the future.