Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Elder Abuse of a Financial Nature

Elder abuse of a financial nature is when the victim is exploited because of vulnerabilities associated with age, such as an impaired mental capacity.

It occurs when someone, usually someone close to an older person, forces him or her to sell personal belongings or property; steals their money, pension cheques or possessions; or withholds the older person's money that they need for daily living.

Theft, fraud, forgery, extortion and the wrongful use of a Power of Attorney are also forms of financial abuse.

Such exploitation may also occur without the victim's knowledge.

Such abuse is a crime. It is often done to a senior by someone he/she knows and trusts, either a family member, visitor, social worker, doctor or nurse.

It affects thousands of seniors in all cultural, social and income groups.

Elder abuse can be difficult to discuss and is not often reported because the senior is unaware of the problem, afraid of revenge by the abuser; is ashamed that they cannot handle the abuse in the home themselves; or is concerned with being labeled as too demanding or senile.

A mentally impaired person may not even be able to report a victimization or to describe its details. If the victimization is reported, the report might not be believed.

Signs of financial abuse

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Not allowing the senior to spend money the way he/she wants

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Forcing a senior to sell or give away property or sign Power of Attorney

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Belongings are missing

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Sudden changes in senior's will

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Unusual activity in bank accounts. ATM withdrawals when the person cannot walk or get to the bank; accounts changed from one branch to another; several withdrawals in short time for large amounts of money; request for large cash withdrawals inconsistent with customer's normal banking practices.

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Different or inappropriate people coming to the bank coupled with changes in signature or unusual account activity. Home health aide, housekeeper, or other person puts their name on account.

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Older customer isolated from friends and family. When you call the house you are told the older customer is unable to speak to you; matters are handled by third party, who has gained control of account.

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Power of Attorney, or Will, drawn up when older customer seems unable to comprehend the financial implication.

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Older customer signs papers without knowing what they are or without legal advice.

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Refusal to spend money on behalf of the elder customer, especially on their care.

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Numerous unpaid bills, such as overdue rent, utilities, taxes.

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Checks bounce when there should be adequate resources.

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New acquaintances expressing gushy, undying affection.

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Recent change of title to house in favor of a "friend", when the older customer is incapable of understanding the nature of the transaction, or eviction notice arrives when person thought they owned the house.

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Canceled checks no longer sent to older customer's house.

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Promises of "Lifelong Care" in exchange for willing or deeding property/bank accounts to caregiver.

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The older customer is placed in a nursing home below his or her financial means.

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Older customer complains that they used to have money, but does not have it any more.

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Caregiver evasive about financial arrangements.

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Older customer fearful or seems afraid to speak in front of household member or companion.

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Accompanying person seeks to prevent older customer from interacting with others.

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Older customer is isolated, in unhealthy or unsafe environment.

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Changes in personal hygiene/inappropriate clothing.

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Older customer and household member or caregiver give conflicting accounts of an incident, expenditure, or financial need.

Links to more info:

National Center for Elder Abuse

Financial Exploitation of Elderly Fraud Victims - research paper .pdf

Elder Abuse Law - Law firm specializing in prosecuting civil actions for financial elder abuse (and related trust and probate litigation) throughout the state of California.

28 Oct 2001


I have a story of a person in my family that is being scammed via an inheritance issue.

My aunt is in her 80s and has unknowingly given power of attorney to a non-family member that is proverbially robbing her blind.

My aunt's deceased husband had a sizable fortune and this individual is slowly removing objects from her house without her permission.

He is also dealing with her issuance of monies.

The telling aspect about this situation is that the person who has this power has purchased luxury recreational vehicles, taken many expensive trips, and put at least two children into upper class schools.

He is a contractor but has not built a house in many years and his wife is a school teacher.

How can we, as family members get the authorities to do an audit of my aunts account.

My uncle had a paving business and had almost $1 million in equipment. Tractors have gone missing but there are no receipts for any sales given to my aunt from this person.

There needs to be an audit for this type of treatment of an elderly person and her money.

Perhaps a freeze on the monies and then an audit?

I am not sure what to do but I just know there is some unscrupulous behavior going on here.

Regards B.C.

I wish I had some easy answers for you but I have yet to delve fully into that topic.

Every jurisdiction is different but I would contact the Attorney General who I believe handles the aspect of POA.

Try the court house as well. Do a search at for the words (abuse "power of attorney") to see what advice links pop up.

Let me know what you do so I can add it for the next person who asks.

Advocacy Centre for The Elderly - Toronto, Ontario, Canada - a community-based legal clinic for low income senior citizens.

For a free copy of MetLife’s Since You Care Guide, “Preventing Elder Abuse,”please write to the MetLife Mature Market Institute, 57 Greens Farms Road, Westport, CT 06880, call (203) 221-6580 or e-mail:

This guide and the others in the series can also be accessed at

Be sure to also see the National Council for Aging Care's guide on Elder Abuse

Guide for Preventing Elder Abuse.

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