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Feb 6, 2024 by |

Palo Alto Financial Elder Abuse Attorney: Caregiver Fraud On Seniors

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

Unauthorized Bank Card Use

130 Fraudulent Purchases Alleged

 $25,000 In Charges In Four Months

Unauthorized card purchases and ATM withdrawals are prevalent forms of such abuse. Dishonest caregivers and others who access a senior’s cards and PIN (or create a PIN through phone or online account access) can rack up large charges in relatively short amounts of time.  In a recent case discussed below, a caregiver is accused of making close to $25,000 in charges in 130 separate transactions in just a few months.  Fortunately, a family member detected the charges.  If no one is monitoring an isolated senior’s bank accounts, fraudulent transactions may continue for long periods of time.  Any wrongful taking of a senior’s property, or any assistance in that taking by a friend or spouse of the dishonest caregiver, 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 financial abuse in Palo Alto or elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area call us today at (415)441-8669. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

Case Example

In one reported case, [1] a woman who worked as a caregiver was arrested and accused of stealing over $24,000 from her elderly client.  Authorities said they got a call from a woman who said she wanted to report her mother-in-law’s caregiver for using her bank card.  Police said the woman told them the caregiver had allegedly made $24,763.18 worth of purchases with her mother-in-law’s card during the prior few months.  According to a criminal complaint, the woman told State troopers that the woman was hired to take care of her mother-in-law and take her to and from doctor’s appointments.  Troopers said they met with the elderly victim who told them the suspect was the only person who had access to her bank card and could have made the 130 fraudulent purchases. The victim said she didn’t authorize the purchases and that the suspect had her bank card during the time of the transactions.  The victim said she was in the hospital when most of the transactions occurred.

Protecting Loved Ones From Financial Abuse

Whether a senior loved one in your family still lives at home or is in a facility, keep a constant eye on the senior’s financial records and keep their ATM and credit cards in a safe place out of reach of caregivers and other strangers.  Never let a caregiver run a shopping errand with a credit card or with a senior’s ATM card to get cash. Review statements online and redirect mail for the account to your own address so caregivers or others cannot access financial information by opening a senior’s mail.  Never give account numbers, PINs or Social Security numbers or any other identifying information to caregivers.  If you detect a problem, do something about it. Call counsel and get advice; do not wait for real problems. Never allow a stranger, housekeeper or caregiver access to checks, cash or credit cards or jewelry and valuables.  Even if you have checks under lock and key continue to monitor a senior’s account online as online or phone access may also redirect their money to a caregiver’s accounts or the senior’s money may be used to pay a caregiver’s bills online. Never, ever give a caregiver a Power of Attorney, credit card, or a blank check. 

Contact Us

If you sense any kind of abuse of an older loved one in Palo Alto or elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area 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 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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