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Mar 29, 2023 by |

Los Angeles/Orange County Financial Elder Abuse Attorney: Caregiver Pleads Guilty To Theft From Elderly Couple

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

Numerous Unauthorized Online Transfers

Over $300,000 Missing From Elderly Couple’s Accounts

Accused Of Forgeries And Fraudulent Transfers

While all seniors are potential victims of financial elder abuse, seniors under the care of in-home caregivers or other strangers in their homes are particularly vulnerable to financial elder abuse. This kind of financial elder abuse often takes the form of stolen cash or checks, forged or altered checks, unauthorized credit card purchases or ATM withdrawals or transfers of money out of a senior’s accounts online.  The abuser may also pay their own bills through online payments from the senior’s accounts.  The amounts may be relatively small at first and then, when the dishonest caregiver thinks he or she is getting away with their theft, will likely grow over time. Whatever the “form” or size of financial elder abuse, any taking of a senior’s property, or any assistance in that taking is a crime and grounds for civil liability of the person doing the taking and anyone assisting him or her. California Penal Code § 368 and Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30 (definition of financial elder abuse).   California broadly defines what constitutes financial elder or dependent adult abuse:

(a) “Financial abuse” of an elder or dependent adult occurs when a person or entity does any of the following:

(1) Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both.

(2) Assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both.

(3) Takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains, or assists in taking, secreting, appropriating, obtaining, or retaining, real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult by undue influence, as defined in Section 15610.70.

If you or a loved one is a victim of elder or dependent adult abuse or neglect in Los Angles, Orange County, or elsewhere in California call us today at (415)441-8669. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

Caregiver Pleads Guilty To Theft

In one reported case, [1] a caregiver admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from an elderly couple and pleaded guilty to two federal charges connected to the crime, according to a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) news release.  According to the DOJ, the defendant worked as a caregiver for the elderly couple and had access to the victims’ bank accounts in order to help them pay monthly bills.  Instead, she allegedly used those accounts to pay herself, her family members and her creditors an estimated $300,000 without the couple’s permission.  According to prosecutors, the defendant accomplished this by forging one of the victim’s signature on several checks and by transferring money from the couple’s bank accounts to her own by online access to the couple’s bank accounts.  The caregiver also admitted to making electronic payments from the victims’ accounts to cover her and her husband’s credit card bills according to the U.S. Attorney’s office handling the case.

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Caregivers should be providing care, not meddling in finances.  The reported case illustrates the danger of letting a caregiver have any role in an older person’s financial affairs.  Even when the caregiver’s role is well-defined and financial affairs are thought to be safeguarded, keep an eye on all financial accounts of your older loved one.  Careful monitoring of a senior’s checking account – and close review of cancelled checks – may have caught the reported fraud in this case sooner than eight or nine months.  Always monitor a senior loved one’s checking account; take a look at it online every day if you can.  But start your due diligence sooner too.  Always do a background check on anyone you hire as a caregiver; get references and call them.  Never, ever give a caregiver a Power of Attorney, credit card, or a blank check.  Stay involved in any senior loved one’s life so a stranger does not have the opportunity for this kind of theft and exploitation.  If you sense any kind of abuse of an older loved one, call us right away.  Ingrid M. Evans has years of experience in representing seniors and their families against abusers of any kind, including in-home caregivers.  You can reach us at (415) 441-8669, or by email at info@evanslaw.com. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

[1] Evans Law Firm, Inc. was not involved in the case in any way.

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