Lincoln County has seen several cases in past couple weeks
Elder abuse is a crime against senior citizens that is gaining the attention of law enforcement.
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Lincoln County has seen several cases in the past couple weeks.
Elder abuse is a crime that often goes unreported, but people are starting to take note and officials are taking up the cause on behalf of victims.
Financial elder abuse cases come across the desk of Detective Scott Hayden more often than he'd like.
"Unfortunately pretty frequently. I would say a couple a month, sometimes more, sometimes less," said Hayden.
But, coordination with other agencies, like Health and Human Services, are bringing the cases to light. Like the case of Debra S. Townsend-Sokoll, who was recently indicted on charges of theft, allegedly against her mother.
"This woman and her husband through their life amassed this wealth, you know, they were acquiring land and assets," Hayden said.
Court documents allege the theft is a class B felony, valued at more than $10,000.
"And in the end, someone took advantage of them and took those things they worked so hard to get," Hayden said.
The National Center on Elder Abuse found 13 percent of the mistreatment allegations investigated were for financial exploitation and it can be coupled with physical abuse.
Hayden said he's seeing it more, and people should be very careful about who they trust and check with others on important financial decisions.
"Don't be forced into signing any documents you're not comfortable with," Hayden said.
And if you spot anything unusual for you or someone you're caring for, talk with police.
"In the end, we hope the offender has to pay restitution for what they took, at minimum. And then there could also be jail sentences and fines on top of that also," Hayden said.
Waldoboro police said they've already had three cases of financial elder abuse this year, including one involving Scott Jordan, a lieutenant at the Cumberland County Jail who was recently indicted on theft charges.
Officials said sometimes it can be hard to tell the extent of these crimes, but it's estimated to cost U.S. victims almost $2.9 million a year.
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Elder abuse cases on rise