Unauthorized Use Of Debit Card
Caregiver Employed By Home Care Agency
Pursuing Civil Remedies
Unauthorized purchases on the credit or debit cards of elderly persons is a common form of financial elder abuse by dishonest caregivers or others who gain access to a senior’s cards. It may be a one-time use or a string of unauthorized purchases and debits accomplished by use of a debit or credit card or by writing checks if the dishonest stranger is a caregiver or other person has continued access to an older person’s financial records, cards and information. Whatever the “form” or frequency 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 Marin or elsewhere in California call us today at (415)441-8669. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).
Caregiver Sentenced For Unauthorized Debit Card Use
In a recently reported case,  a caregiver has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and faces a suspended one to two year prison sentence if she fails to abide the terms of her two year felony probation after pleading guilty to possessing a false, expired or fraudulently obtained financial transaction card with intent to defraud for using a vulnerable 91-year-old patient’s debit card to run up $15,720 in personal expenditures earlier this year. According to court documents, the thefts came to light when police met with the victim’s son, who had recently moved home to care for his dad, a retired school teacher who suffers age-related ailments including memory loss, confusion and delusional thoughts. In going through his father’s financial records, he said, he noticed several suspicious bank card transactions, including online purchases. His father, the man said, had never made an online purchase and wouldn’t know how to. He suspected, he said, his father’s in-home personal care provider. In checking with the victim’s bank, police learned that three transactions on the victim’s personal account had been flagged as suspicious and not processed, two of them attempts to transfer monies to the account of the caregiver and one to one of her family members. When interviewed by the police, the suspect admitted to each suspicious purchase on a printout of her account, she confessed to making payments on her home and a personal loan, paying personal bills and buying food, clothes and more. On one day alone, she confessed that she made 19 transactions using the victim’s debit card, making 10 Amazon purchases, paying her internet service bill, cell phone payment, her utility bill and car payment and placing a Yankee Candle order, according to court documents. Following her arrest, the suspect plead guilty to several criminal charges and was sentenced to jail time and ordered to pay restitution to the 91-year-old victim.
Protecting Seniors From Financial Abuse
Always do a background check on any caregiver before he or she is hired. Ask for references and check them. Once the caregiver is on the job have the time cards sent to you so you can verify their accuracy. There are other important steps to follow as well to prevent more elaborate schemes of financial abuse. 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. 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 in Marin or anywhere else in California, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).
 Evans Law Firm, Inc. was not involved in the case in any way.