2016 has been a year that saw increased focus and attention brought to the issue of elder abuse in the United States, both at the Federal Level and within California, new laws and regulations have been passed to try to prevent seniors from being the targets of abuse and fraud. Among them are new Department of Labor rules that require annuity brokers to act as fiduciaries for their clients, a new law that protects financial advisors who inform investigators about their suspicions of financial elder abuse, and a bill before Congress to improve training employees of services that receive federal funding. However, it takes more than just laws and regulations to protect seniors: it takes attentiveness and actions on the part of friends and relatives of loved ones. A case in Healdsburg, Sonoma County shows exactly why elder abuse and fraud, especially when carried out by purported caregivers, can be extremely hard to spot and prevent.
Andrew Ross, the founder of an organization calling itself “Creative Counseling for Elders and Families,” was sentenced to 6 months in jail for embezzling $26,000 from an elderly woman with dementia. He pled no contest to felony abuse by a caregiver after the fraud was discovered by the woman’s bank. He has been barred from ever working as a caregiver again.
Believe it or not, this is just about the best case scenario after elder abuse occurs. An elderly woman with dementia, who doesn’t have immediate family or friend to help her, could easily have had a far worse outcome. Hired caregivers wield a lot of power over their charges, and if they misuse that power, it’s hard for outsiders to uncover and stop the abuse. There are many cases of this type where the bank doesn’t catch suspicious transfers, or where more than $26,000 gets siphoned off before anyone notices. Abusers, especially financial professionals who make a career of stealing from seniors, have experience in avoiding suspicion and know how to hide their trail, according to our Sonoma County elder abuse attorneys.
While new laws can help enable those who want to protect seniors, the first and most important step is staying involved in the day to day lives of elderly loved ones. While the Healdsburg case shows the result when seniors are isolated, it’s impossible to number the amount of times that a potential abuser was thwarted or deterred by the presence of a network of friends and relatives looking after a senior. Having a reliable caregiver is important, but they aren’t sufficient by themselves to protect a senior from abuse and fraud.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of physical or financial elder abuse by a caregiver or financial advisor, contact the Evans Law Firm at (415) 441-8669, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Sonoma County elder abuse attorneys have experience handling cases involving caregiver and nursing home fraud as well as insurance and annuity fraud by financial advisors.