Financial exploitation happens when an individual improperly or illegally uses someone else’s funds, property, or assets for their benefit. This illegal act can occur in many different ways that can ultimately be devastating for the victim. Oftentimes a victim may lose their life savings, their home, or other assets that they have worked hard to accumulate.
While there are numerous types of financial exploitation, some of the most common forms include:
Trusted individuals or even unknown thieves use bank account information, credit cards, or checks to steal money. Older people may be viewed as easy and weak so valuables and personal property often become common targets.
Older adults are particularly vulnerable to scams, and criminals know this and use it their advantage. Often complete strangers, perpetrators will utilize mail, email, or phone communications to conduct their schemes. In addition, these scammers include an emotional component and a sense of urgency to gather funds from the victim.
Misuse of Authority
Caregivers may abuse their Power of Attorney (POA) position to withdraw money or obtain a loan in an older adult’s name. These POA’s can also make last-minute, nonconsensual changes to the person’s property, thereby committing financial exploitation.
Legal Document Abuse
Caregivers or other individuals can trick an older adult into signing over power of attorney. Most importantly, this can happen when the older adult lacks the mental capacity to understand what is happening. In this form of financial exploitation, victims are often tricked into signing paperwork that removes themselves from deeds, titles, or bank accounts, and adds the name of caretakers. Another red flag to look out for is when an older adult inadvertently makes dramatic or hasty changes to their will, trust, or transfers on death deed. When a beneficiary compels the making of a last will and testament when the older adult is not mentally sound, it can be considered abuse.
Extortion and Manipulation
In an effort to obtain assets or property, loved ones may threaten, scare, or intimidate an older adult. These exploiters will prey on the emotions of older adults for monetary gain.