Exploiters may describe themselves as “family caregivers,” while the truth is that they are dependent on their victims for financial assistance, housing and other support. The risk increases when the exploiter knows where important papers are and has access to personal information (e.g., PIN numbers, Social Security number). Substance abuse and other personal problems may be associated with the behavior.
Financial exploitation happens in many ways. These include when someone who has a legal obligation to manage the money makes unauthorized expenditures of a vulnerable adult’s funds, or fails to use the funds for his/her food, clothing, shelter, health care or supervision. Financial exploitation can also occur when someone uses or disposes of a vulnerable adult’s money or property without any legal authority.
Acquiring possession or control of a vulnerable adult’s funds or property through pressure, deception, or fraud constitutes financial exploitation.
- Signs of neglect despite availability of resources
- Unpaid bills despite availability of resources
- Corollaries: pharmacy stops filling prescriptions, threats of eviction or involuntary discharge from residence for unpaid rent
- Sudden changes in property titles, mortgages, Powers of Attorney documents, wills, trusts
- Large or frequent gifts to caregivers
- Caregiver’s excessive interest in elder’s financial records
- Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming rights to elder’s possessions
- “Helpful neighbors” paid big sums for chores
- Elder is repeatedly isolated from callers or visitors (or investigators)