Saturday, February 20, 2010

Financial Exploitation Using Power of Attorney

A trusting 82-year-old 'Aiea man is struggling to restore his financial footing after giving away his durable power of attorney to a female acquaintance who used it to raid his bank account and obtain credit cards and a reverse mortgage that plunged him into staggering debt.

Friends who are helping the elderly man said cash losses and new debt from years of financial exploitation could top $750,000, with no guarantee of getting any of it back.

The 'Aiea man's predicament, now under investigation by the state Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services, is an example of how powers of attorney — used since ancient times to allow individuals to act on behalf of others in business transactions and other affairs — have become a license to steal from the elderly.

Most often the thieves are relatives or caregivers who take advantage of a senior's poor health or diminished mental capacity to gain control of bank accounts, homes and other assets for their own benefit, according to elder law experts and other advocates for the elderly.

"It's a huge problem," said Bruce Bottorff, associate state director of AARP. "We continue to do education and outreach because it is so prevalent and, frankly, underreported. People need to be vigilant as the population grows older."

Full Article and Source:
More Hawaii Seniors Financially Exploited

See Also:
Couple Helping Exploited Widower Pick Up Pieces


StandUp said...

Here's the unfortunate thing about PoA abuse: it leads to guardianship / conservatorship under the guise of "protection."

The victim is victimized by the crook misusing the PoA. The system rushes in to "protect" the victim via a guardianship /conservatorship.

The victim is then re-victimized!

annie mckenna said...

Unfortunately, a Power of Attorney is misunderstood by everyone involved. When you appoint someone as your POA, that person has a fiduciary responsibilty to act in your best interest and do only act in your best interest. He or she is supposed to act in the exact manner you would if you were present. In other words, carry out your wishes. There are criminal penalties for anyone who does otherwise.

Anonymous said...

You're right about that standUp! Notice the article says, "Most often the thieves are relatives or caregivers..." I'm sure MANY will disagree with that statement. As StandUp said, "The system rushes in to "protect" the victim via a guardianship /conservatorship.
The victim is then re-victimized!" That's a fact and don't think for a minute that it can't happen to you or some one you love. If you have money, they will find you.

Mike said...

Laws against PoA abuse need to be strengthened and those who take advantage of and elderly or disabled person using a PoA should be punished to the maximum possible.

The courts should always order resitution and if the thief doesn't have the funds to pay it all back, then the thief's wages should be garnisheed (after prison) until the debt is paid.