In a recent Tacoma Washington case, a stockbroker was sentenced to five years for wire fraud, false tax returns and stealing nearly $1,000,000 from an elderly client’s bank and brokerage accounts. Over a period of several years, the stockbroker established a fiduciary relationship with the client, becoming the trustee of the man’s revocable living trust. He subsequently acquired power of attorney over the elderly client and used it to misappropriate funds from the client’s accounts in amounts totaling over $650,000. He later billed his deceased client another $250,000 for “estate services”. A hearing is scheduled January 25 to determine the amount of restitution the stockbroker will pay to the deceased client’s estate.
Financial fraud and exploitation of seniors has reached such epidemic proportions as to warrant the creation of a bi-partisan Senate committee to tackle the problem.
In November 2012, Senator Herb Kohl, Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging conducted a hearing to address the topic of elder abuse and financial exploitation of elders. The GAO reports that nearly one in five seniors has been the victim of a financial scam. An estimated $2.9 billion per year in financial fraud is perpetrated against the elderly. There has been a twelve percent increase in financial exploitation of elders from 2008 to 2010. By 2030, there will be an estimated seventy one million seniors, thus increasing the potential for elder abuse and financial exploitation of seniors.
With the passage of the Elder Justice Act and the formation of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council the federal government has taken significant steps toward collaborating with state and local agencies and law enforcement regarding the increasing problem of elder abuse and financial exploitation of seniors. Testimony at the Senate hearing by financial experts, attorneys, and social workers emphasizes the need for education of seniors as well as bank and credit union staff in recognizing and preventing financial exploitation of elders.
In California there is growing public awareness of elder financial abuse. Financial Abuse Specialist Teams (FAST) work in partnership with local police departments, attorneys, and Adult Protective Services to increase community involvement in combating elder abuse. California bank tellers are now mandated by law to report suspected financial abuse of elders. San Diego has assigned six detectives to work on elder abuse cases.
The Financial Abuse Reporting Act, SB 1018
You can protect yourself and your loved ones by seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney who specializes in cases involving the victimization of seniors.
The Evans Law Firm represents victims of elder abuse in California. If you or a loved one has been the victim of financial exploitation, contact The Evans Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation at 415-441-8669 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our website at www.evanslaw.com