How Dishonest Caregivers Steal From Seniors
Unauthorized Purchases, Forged Checks, And More
Forged checks, stolen cash and valuables, unauthorized use of credit and debit cards, and fraudulently obtained Powers of Attorney or other estate planning instruments are all forms of financial elder abuse of the elderly. Often, a stranger or in-home caregiver is the perpetrator of these types of abuse. 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. If the senior is unable to monitor their own bank accounts, the fraudulent use of the cards can continue for long periods of time as the case discussed below illustrates. 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 Santa Clara County or elsewhere in California call us today at (415)441-8669. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).
Unauthorized Debit Card Use As A Form Of Financial Elder Abuse
In on reported case with a recurring fact pattern for this kind of financial elder abuse,  police arrested a woman for allegedly stealing over $30,000 from a 76-year-old woman while working as the woman’s in-home caregiver. According to the authorities, the caregiver withdrew more than $30,000 from the victim’s account through an ATM machine for a period of roughly eighteen months. The criminal complaint noted that the withdrawals were all made without the victim’s consent. The caregiver is charged both with criminal financial elder abuse and theft. She could be sentenced to between four and fifteen years in prison according to authorities reporting the arrest. Charges are pending.
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.
If you sense any kind of abuse of an older loved one in Santa Clara County 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.