Shocking Elderly Financial Abuse

Older Americans are easy victims fro scam artists. But Consumer Reports has found increasingly it's trusted family and friends who are abusing the elderly-by draining bank accounts, selling valuables, or even taking over their real estate.

These crimes can be difficult to spot.

Seventy-four-year-old Arthur Green spent years building his lakeside home. He says recently he was persuaded to sign it over to his granddaughter and was told he could live out his days there.

Green says, "All of a sudden she just like a...I don't know what...snap of the fingers, she changed. She got money hungry."

His granddaughter tried to evict him and sell the property.

Denis Culley, Legal Services Attorney says, "Arthur was absolutely at risk of homelessness. He was also completely impoverished because this land and house is the only thing of any value he owned in the world."

Denis Culley, Green's lawyer, says financial exploitation of seniors is all to common and often goes unreported.

A Consumer Reports' investigation finds theft and fraud by loved ones is on the rise.

Tobie Stanger of Consumer Reports says, "Caregivers, family members, neighbors, they can use all kinds of tactics to raid their assets."

They can be as obvious as forging signatures on checks, begging for loans that are never paid back, or abusing power of attorney.

Stanger says, "When you give power of attorney to somebody, it can give them unfettered access to your accounts. Somebody who misuses those can do real damage. And that's a real problem for the elderly."

Consumer Reports says to help prevent elder abuse-

-Have bank and investment statements sent to a person you trust to monitor accounts.

-Arrange for direct deposit and automatic bill pay

-And consult a reputable elder law attorney for advice on wills and limiting power of attorney.

Fortunately for Arthur, a legal services program for the elderly he consulted obtained a court order voiding the granddaughter's deed-returning the property to him.

Consumer Reports says if you or and elderly relative is concerned about financial abuse, a good place to get help is the National Center on Elder Abuse.


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