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Nov 26, 2021 by |

Sonoma County Financial Elder Abuse Attorney: U.S. Department Of Justice Reports Prosecutions Of Financial Elder Abuse

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

100,000 Complaints Of Financial Elder Abuse In 2020

FBI Froze $13.5 Million Before Victims Lost To Fraud

Assisted Care Residents Particularly Vulnerable

In the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) brought more than 220 criminal and civil enforcement actions covering almost 20 different types of fraud targeting older Americans, according to the agency’s annual report to Congress on combating elder fraud and abuse, issued October 18.  The California Department of Justice similarly accelerated its prosecution of financial elder abuse cases in 2020.  Local law enforcement pursues financial elder abusers too.  But the primary financial recourse for older victims comes from civil actions brought by victims and their families through elder law counsel. In California, financial elder abuse is grounds for civil liability under the Elder Abuse Act.  See Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15610.30 (definition of financial elder abuse).  Relief for the victim includes mandatory awards of attorneys’ fees and expenses in financial elder abuse cases.  Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5.  If you or a loved one is a victim of financial elder abuse in Sonoma County or elsewhere in California call us today at (415)441-8669. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

Financial Elder Abuse In Assisted Care Facilities

The DOJ report includes several fraud cases involved assisted living residents:[1]

  • A widow who lived in an assisted living community and, later, a nursing home, was duped into signing over power of attorney to the administrator, who pleaded guilty in 2020 to wire fraud for stealing $495,000 between 2014 and 2016.  The administrator was sentenced to 70 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to the victim’s children.
  • A financial adviser defrauded clients, including older adults, out of more than $6 million from 2007 to 219 by making unauthorized transactions from client accounts for his own personal benefit. The scheme was uncovered when a victim attempted to obtain a bridge loan to cover relocation expenses to an assisted living community until her home sale was completed. She and her daughter discovered that an $800,000 loan already had been obtained in the older woman’s name without her knowledge or permission by the advisor. 
  • In a still pending case, an assisted living caregiver allegedly withdrew $16,000 from a 96-year-old resident’s account after he gave her his debit card so she could buy him beer. The caregiver also allegedly spent more than $1,000 on fees to talk to her boyfriend in jail, and she allegedly obtained a credit card from the man’s account, which she reportedly used to pay $3,500 for a criminal defense attorney.
  • A former owner and operator of an assisted living facility, pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud after using more than $823,000 of residents’ federal and state benefits to satisfy personal debts and fund personal travel, retail purchases and gambling expenses.

Monitoring A Senior’s Accounts

These cases illustrate how important it is to keep an eye on a senior’s accounts whether he or she is still at home or if they reside in a facility. Review bank records and bills continually.  Never ever allow the senior to give a caregiver, care facility employee or a stranger or new “advisors” a Power of Attorney.  Accompany any senior to all business meetings.  If the senior has a trusted advisor of many years, get to know that person and ask him or her to let you know if they suspect anyone is taking unfair advantage of the senior. If you suspect abuse, call elder law counsel to help you pursue all available remedies against anyone responsible for abuse, including an award of attorneys’ fees and costs for bringing your suit under Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5.

Contact Us

If you or someone you love is the victim of any type of financial elder abuse in Sonoma County or elsewhere in California, call Ingrid M. Evans at Evans Law Firm, Inc. at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</a>. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

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

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