Victims of elder financial abuse lose $2.6 billion every year, according to published reports. One out of every 20 elderly individuals have admitted to being victimized through financial exploitation. However, statisticians estimate that this number may be even higher since it is believed that only one out of every 44 cases actually reports the financial abuse.
Victims of elder financial exploitation may be isolated, threatened or pressured to change their estate plans. Children of elderly parents and other loved ones must remain vigilant about protecting these individuals. Looking for potential warning signs can help avoid these crippling consequences. Often, perpetrators of elder financial exploitation have certain traits, including the following:
Existing history of bad acts
In many cases, the alleged abuser is someone who has an existing history of exploiting others. A simple internet search may reveal a prior criminal charge or conviction against the perpetrator. Looking into the background of caregivers or those who are in trusted positions can possibly avert future problems.
Loved ones should not assume that someone who is a professional, has money or has a higher social standing cannot be an abuser. In some cases, the paper trail shows medical professionals who lost their medical license, lawyers who were disciplined or finance managers who lost positions due to mistreating vulnerable clients.
Another possible warning sign that a person may not be acting in the best interests of an elderly individual is a long history of litigation. While someone may file a lawsuit after being injured in a lawsuit or being embroiled in a business dispute without this being a red flag, a continued history of litigation may point to potential problems. Elder abusers have often been involved in prior lawsuits regarding allegations of abusing other elders with whom they worked.
Small social circle or work environment
Individuals who are crooks and who prey on others are often not able to retain many friendships. Once people realize what they are up to, they tend to avoid them. For this reason, many abusers may be spotted by having an insular social circle. Their social network may be limited to just a few people. Typically, financial abusers are not usually involved in social organizations or groups that would typically bring them into contact with a large number of people.
Additionally, because they depend on scams to support their lifestyle, they often have a work environment in which not many people work closely with them. Common professions of elder financial abusers include homemaking, owning one’s own business, retired or contractors.
Strange money habits
Financial abusers commonly use money habits that work against traditional principles of money management. For example, financial abusers may invest in risky funds, may invest funds into an investment club that they purport is run by a friend, buy large quantities of gold or precious metals, purchase large amounts of bitcoin, hoard cash, invest in rare art, purchase on futures markets, serve as an investment advisor rather than delegating this task to someone else or exchanging large sums of money into foreign currency.
It is common for older individuals to put a financial power of attorney in place. However, unscrupulous individuals may take advantage of this type of appointment. Loved ones should look out for warning signs of someone contemplating such actions, such as trying to conceal investments, investing in only a few selected funds or otherwise not providing transparency. When facing difficult decisions regarding advanced aging, you do not have to act alone. Instead, trust the Maryland elder law attorneys at Altman & Associates to help you plan for the future. We advocate for elderly individuals and their families in times of need. We have convenient office locations in Columbia, Rockville and Northern Virginia. Contact us by phone at (301) 468-3220 or online to schedule a consultation.