Caregiver Took Over Victim’s Checking Account
Allegedly Stole $250,000 From Senior
Bank Notified Police Of Suspicious Activity In Account
Unscrupulous caregivers are capable of devising intricate schemes to take money from their elderly patients. In one case, discussed below, a licensed social worker acted as a caregiver and signer on a patient’s checking account in order to steal from the elder and cover it up under the guise of being her social worker. Whether financial elder abuse is a one-time theft or an intricate scheme, it’s a crime and grounds for civil liability against any person who wrongfully takes money or property belonging to a senior, and anyone assisting that person or persons. Penal Code § 368 (crime of elder abuse); Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 15610.30(a)(definition of financial elder abuse). California law broadly defines what constitutes financial elder 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.
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. 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 or elsewhere in California.
Charges Against Social Worker/Caregiver
In one reported case, a self-employed caregiver pleaded no contest to stealing $250,000 from an 86-year-old woman with severe memory loss. The caregiver was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to make full restitution to his victim. Police allege that the defendant founded a counseling business for elders and families many years ago and took $250,000 from one of his firm’s clients for whom he provided caregiver and “counseling” services. Authorities stated that the individual was a licensed clinical social worker and became a trustee of the victim’s checking account. According to the criminal complaint in the case, he wrote himself checks and transferred money online from the victim’s bank account to his personal checking account. Authorities say he used the money to take his family on a trip to Mexico and pay his taxes. The victim’s bank looked into the money transfers and notified police, which led to the investigation and subsequent criminal prosecution.
Protecting Older Loved Ones From Financial Elder Abuse
One lesson is loud and clear from the reported case: never, ever, give a caregiver a Power of Attorney or signing authority on a bank account. You are only asking for trouble under those circumstances. Caregivers are employed to take care of a senior’s health and assist in daily living activities – not finances. Keep all financial information away from any caregivers or other strangers working in a senior’s home. Have the monthly statements mailed to you at your home so a caregiver in the senior’s home cannot open the mail and obtain financial information. Keep all online user names and account passwords hidden from any caregiver. Monitor all of a senior’s accounts frequently, and do not allow a caregiver access to credit cards or ATM cards.
If you suspect anything wrong with respect to an older loved one’s finances, do something about it right away. Contact qualified elder counsel, such as Evans Law Firm, Inc. If a person is exploiting them through a Power of Attorney, you can revoke a current power of attorney, execute a new power of attorney with different agents, appoint co-agents or a corporate fiduciary, and alert your financial institutions of the change in agents or other suspicious activity. Victims and families can also bring a civil action against all parties responsible for the financial elder abuse. Awards of attorneys’ fees and expenses to the victims are mandatory where financial elder abuse has occurred. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5.
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:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
 Evans Law Firm, Inc. was not involved in the case in any way.