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Oct 11, 2022 by |

San Francisco Financial Elder Abuse Attorney: Bookkeeper Theft From Elderly Clients

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

Schemes Undetected For Years 

False Cover-Ups To Hide Abuse

Forged Checks And Unauthorized Credit Card Use

Whenever another person is in charge of someone else’s money there’s a risk of theft.  This is especially true for older persons who entrust someone else to handle their finances. Given the potential for abuse, a licensed and bonded professional fiduciary is probably the optimal choice when a senior or dependent adult needs help with checking writing and bill paying. While bonded and licensed professional fiduciaries charge higher rates than unlicensed, self-proclaimed “bookkeepers” the risk of employing a dishonest, uninsured bookkeeper can be great.  Certain individuals may take advantage of access to a senior’s finances for their own benefit.  Any such act of financial elder abuse is criminal and grounds for civil liability against the person who took the property and anyone assisting them.  Penal Code § 368 (crime of financial elder abuse); Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30(a)(1) and (2)(definition of financial elder abuse including assisting in the abuse).  Evans Law Firm, Inc. represents victims of financial elder abuse from any source, be it caregivers, trustees, bookkeepers, persons with Powers of Attorney and others, and pursues all remedies available under the law.  Call us today at (415)441-8669 or TOLL FREE 1-888-80EVANS (888-503-8267) if any senior loved one has suffered any kind of financial elder abuse in San Francisco, the San Francisco Bay Area or elsewhere in California, and we can help.

Examples of Bookkeeper Financial Elder Abuse[1]

In the first example of alleged bookkeeper theft from an elderly person, a bookkeeper was arrested for stealing $742,000 from a 72-year-old disabled man.  According to authorities, the suspect took money from the man over a seven year period.  The victim did not discover the problem until the bookkeeper called in sick one day and the victim himself had to contact his bank for a transaction.  He found out his account balances had been severely depleted when he called.  The victim called the local police who began an investigation.  Based on the police department’s investigation, the bookkeeper allegedly forged checks, misused an ATM card and used the victim’s identity to open and use credit card accounts,

In the second reported example, a bookkeeper allegedly stole more than $60,000 from a 92-year-old woman.  According to the District Attorney, the bookkeeper allegedly altered checks signed by her elderly client and adding the word “hundred” to the amount line and adding two extra zeros to the numerical account.  If, for example, the elderly woman signed a check for $25.00, the DA said defendant would change it to $2,500.  A total of $60,400 in altered checks were allegedly deposited into the defendant’s bank account. The elderly woman’s daughter eventually discovered the missing money when she reviewed her mother’s accounts. 

Preventing Elder Financial Abuse And Theft

A main takeaway from both reported examples is that families of older persons should start monitoring a senior’s accounts the moment anyone else has access to the accounts. Frequent monitoring of an older loved one’s financial accounts – including checking where their Social Security and pension benefits are deposited – is the frontline of protecting your older loved one. Monitor all of a senior loved one’s bank accounts, investment accounts, IRAs, and credit card accounts online.  Caregivers and bookkeepers should never have access to cash, checks, ATM cards or credit cards. Audit the work done by any bookkeeper or trustee for the senior.  Trace income and expenses through all accounts and pay special attention to transfer out of their account to any other account.  We have seen many instances where a caregiver or other persons sets up a joint or separate account and siphons a senior’s money into that account for their own use. Never, ever grant a power of attorney to a caregiver or a bookkeeper. 

Contact Us

Perhaps most important of all, if you suspect anything wrong, do something about it right away. Ingrid M. Evans represents elder and dependent adults in San Francisco and throughout California who are victims of any kind of financial exploitation or other abuse.  Ingrid can be reached at (415) 441-8669 or TOLL FREE 1-888-80EVANS (888-503-8267), or email us at <a href=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</a>. 

[1] Evans Law Firm, Inc. was not involved in either of the reported cases in any way.

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