Recently, financial abuse and exploitation of the elderly in Illinois has been on the rise.
In one case, a retiree agreed to invest his life savings with a friend. The plan guaranteed a healthy annual interest rate and protected his initial investment. The friend eventually used the retiree’s money to pay himself and other investors. With a long retirement ahead, the retiree now worries constantly about his future.
In another situation, a 93-year-old man hired a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, to care for him so he could continue living at home. After three and a half months, the CNA gained control of his estate and changed his will to include her family as the beneficiaries. She stole over $560,000 from her employer and used the money to buy luxury cars and fund her daughter’s college education. The 93-year-old now lives in an assisted living center.
These cases represent a portion of the over 6,200 incidents of suspected senior financial abuse and exploitation reported in Illinois in 2011.
Seniors remain vulnerable targets because of their accrued assets, typically including a home and retirement savings. They are often easily deceived, especially if they live alone or are distracted by medical issues. Thieves look for easy money and frequently target seniors.
To protect its senior population, Illinois passed several laws recently.
To begin with, financial workers are now required to learn the signs of financial abuse. Investment companies and other front-line financial workers receive training to recognize and report financial abuse. In 2013, law enforcement officers will be granted access to abuse complaints filed by senior services agencies. The increase in police involvement may deter criminals from targeting vulnerable seniors.
Source: The Chicago Tribune, “Elder financial abuse in Illinois on rise,” Becky Yerak, August 12, 2012.
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