Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Betrayal of Trust: Part Two - Section 2

'It's about making money'

Thieves are everywhere

In the U.S., scamming the elderly is a nearly $3 billion-a-year-business.

Its growth potential is off the charts.

America is getting grayer by the day. By 2050, the 65 and older population is expected to hit 80 million, almost double what it is now.
Within 12 years, seniors will comprise 20 percent of New Jersey's population, up from 14 percent in 2012.
The scams run the gamut. Becoming a guardian in order to exploit someone is one of the most effective tricks, because it gives a predator total control over someone's life and assets, usually with little or no court oversight.

In the only two states that track the amount of assets under guardians' control, Minnesota and Idaho, the combined total comes to more than $1 billion, says Brenda K. Uekert, a leading guardianship expert.

"I don't think people understand the amount of money we're talking about," says Uekert, principal court research consultant with the National Center for State Courts, in Williamsburg, Virginia.

"You're talking about billions of dollars under the courts' watch."

Alternatives to guardianship. Click to open and close.

An even easier way than guardianship to gain access to that money is to get an elderly person to sign over a power of attorney.

The document gives whoever the elderly person designates the authority to act on his or her behalf in legal and financial affairs.

With guardianships, there's at least the potential for checks and balances. Judges, attorneys and county surrogates all play an oversight role. At least, they're supposed to.

In New Jersey, as in other states, guardians are required to file periodic reports updating the court on their wards' care and finances.

With powers of attorney, there's no such paper trail.

It's little surprise, then, that the majority of Lieberman's 16 victims involved powers of attorney. Three others were guardianship cases.

"Only in three cases did she (Lieberman) have to file accountings with the court. That left 13 cases where there were no prying eyes," says Martha Laham, a California business professor and author of "The Con Game: A Failure of Trust." The book covers guardianship abuse and other scams targeting the elderly.

A prominent elder law attorney in Atlantic County, Lieberman, 63, had a team of accomplices to help her scoop up victims, authorities say. To date, a grand jury has charged five co-defendants. They are all presumed innocent and all but one are still awaiting trial.

Lieberman was the quarterback of the group, a judge has said.

The group zeroed in on seniors in their eighties and nineties.

Many lived lonely lives. Most had no children or close relatives to watch over them in their twilight years.

Irma Schwarzberg was a prime candidate.

She was 87. Alone. And vulnerable.

(Continue to Section 3)

Full Article & Source:
Betrayal of trust: Part Two


Mark said...

The thieves are everywhere because the courts pander to the thieves.

Kay said...

Nobody was watching Lieberman because judges are inclined to trust lawyers and not question them, despite the low rating of lawyer's honesty with the public.