I've recently finished reading this excellent book describing how the elderly become victims of financial abuse. The author, Joe Roubicek, was a detective in the Fort Lauderdale Police Department for many years, and he investigated over 1000 cases of exploitation of the elderly during that period on the police force. The book describes some of the cases he investigated and discusses the shortcomings of state laws protecting the elderly from financial abuse.
Roubicek clarifies the differences between exploitation of the elderly and fraud. Exploitation occurs when someone takes advantage of a disabled elderly person to deprive that person of his or her assets. For example, an in-home caregiver might take advantage of her employer's memory deficits to ask for grocery money five times in a single day. Fraud occurs when a "false and deceptive statement of fact induces the victim to give up a valuable item that he or she owns." Fraud laws are written under the assumption that the victim has the mental capacity to weigh information and make decisions. For example, if a roofing contractor takes a deposit for work on a house with quality materials and workmanship and returns to do the job with defective materials, then fraud may have occurred.
Unfortunately, financial elder abuse often occurs in the gray area between the fraud and the exploitation statutes.
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