As people age, they become more susceptible to financial exploitation by those around them. Unfortunately, these types of incidents are becoming more common and represent a growing problem in Chicago, the suburbs, and the entire nation.
Because senior citizens have a nest egg and own property, they are often targets for scams, schemes, and fraud. Common types of financial exploitation of the elderly include:
- Telemarketing Fraud – This type of fraud includes phone calls to senior citizens offering them cash prizes, inexpensive vacations, or low-cost prescription drugs.
- Investment Fraud – In this type of fraud, a person posing as financial advisor offers “free” investment advice to the detriment of the senior citizen.
- Law Enforcement or Agency Fraud – Senior citizens receive a telephone call or email from an individual claiming to be an IRS Agent, or a US Customs Agent. The “agent” claims that the senior citizen is facing severe legal penalties and must pay large sums of money to resolve the alleged issues.
Unfortunately, financial abuse often goes unnoticed until it is too late to recover the stolen funds or property. Some warning signs of financial abuse of an elderly individual include:
- Withdrawals from bank accounts which your loved one cannot explain;
- A new “friend” who is spending a lot of time with your loved one;
- Your loved one making purchases or spending money on their new “friend”;
- Missing financial statements;
- Bills being left unpaid.
In an effort to protect senior citizens and to deter those who prey on the elderly, Illinois passed the Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person Act. The law defines financial exploitation as:
(a) A person commits financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability when he or she stands in a position of trust or confidence with the elderly person or a person with a disability and he or she knowingly and by deception or intimidation obtains control over the property of an elderly person or a person with a disability or illegally uses the assets or resources of an elderly person or a person with a disability.
The law imposes both criminal and civil penalties for those who take financial advantage of disabled persons or persons over the age of 60. Therefore, law enforcement agencies can pursue criminal charges against a person who has exploited a senior citizen or disabled person. Additionally, the perpetrator of the fraud or theft may be sued by the victim and his or her family. In a civil lawsuit, the victim and her family can attempt to recover the property and funds that was stolen or lost.
At Hays Firm, LLC, we are experienced elder law attorneys who have seen an increase of cases involving exploitation of the elderly by their friends, neighbors, and family members. If you are concerned about your elderly loved one, please contact one of our Chicago elder law attorneys. We are familiar with the Illinois Financial Exploitation of the Elderly Act. We can attempt to intervene and prevent further financial abuse.