There are a lot of complicated subjects surrounding our loved ones as they grow older. That’s because with increasing age comes an increasing need for protection. Sometimes we share these tasks with specialized caregivers — who may or may not have our loved ones’ interests at heart. When those caregivers break our trust, we need to act fast. But how? Well, it just so happens that many estate planning lawyers also specialize in elder abuse.
These practice areas are like pieces of the same pie.
Take a recent lawsuit lodged by Terry Ann McIntosh and her lawyers, for example: she was 75 years old and confined to a wheelchair when circumstances finally required the services of a full-time caregiver. The person who arrived to help perform all the daily tasks McIntosh couldn’t do for herself was a young woman — an innocent-looking enough young woman at that. But innocence was just a facade in this case, and McIntosh soon found her bank account under attack.
The caregiver tried to transfer a whopping $10,000 from McIntosh’s bank account into her own. The transaction was immediately marked as possible fraud by the managers at Bank of America, and they blocked it pending the confirmation of McIntosh’s identity via a phone call. The caregiver subsequently committed identity fraud, pretending to be McIntosh. She even failed those security questions with which we’re all so familiar! But Bank of America lifted the fraud alert anyway. The caregiver had just won her $10,000 payday.
The next 44 money transfers were much easier after the alert was lifted. The caregiver managed to pilfer about $245,000 during those more successful attempts, spending almost all of it before she was finally caught by the police, charged with grand theft and identity fraud, and convicted on both counts. McIntosh received only $8,000 of the stolen funds. She requested the money from Bank of America, whose security measures had proved insufficient, but Bank of America denied the request.
What’s important to understand is that this kind of theft is even less common than more organized theft committed by bigger organizations of people.
Director of elder abuse prevention at the Institute of Aging Shawn Reeves said, “This is big business, perpetrated by actors people think are legitimate.”
Des Moines Assistant Attorney General Chantelle Smith said that complaints are based on “any type of business you can imagine.”
That’s why it’s so important to seek out the qualified services of an estate planning or elder abuse attorney when delving into thefts of acts of fraud like the aforementioned. Even if you so much as suspect that such criminal acts are taking place, it’s worth your time to find out for sure.