|Lee County Clerk of Court Linda Doggett.|
Each year, elderly Americans are defrauded an estimated $37 billion, according to various reports.
What’s even more alarming is almost 52 percent of the perpetrators are the victims’ family members. This disturbing statistic hits very close to home, where more than a quarter of Lee County’s aging population is over 65 years old.
At the Clerk’s office, we don’t take this lightly. For years, we’ve been focusing on ways to combat exploitation of our most vulnerable citizens.
Our Probate office audits more than 1,500 guardianship cases annually. If we suspect or detect fraud, waste or financial mismanagement, our Inspector General Department conducts enhanced guardianship audits and refers alleged criminal activities to the State Attorney’s Office for further investigation and possible prosecution.
Last September, we closed one of our investigations involving a guardian who exploited more than $1 million from a 70-year old woman over several years. Unfortunately, she passed away before her guardian pleaded guilty and was brought to justice.
While these incidents are hard to uncover, there are several red flags that may help us identify whether our family members, friends and neighbors are suffering from guardianship fraud. Suspected incidents of fraud and financial mismanagement include:
- Missing money or property
- Changes in bank accounts or credit lines, opening loans, or funds transfers
- Elderly ward is removed from their home
- Purchase/sale of property
- Violations of the law or local ordinances
Help us uncover guardianship fraud. If you suspect a guardian, family member, caregiver, attorney or others of committing guardianship fraud, please report it to our online Inspector General Hotline by visiting leeclerk.org. You can also email and submit tips to Info_InspectorGeneral@leeclerk.org or call 239-337-7799.
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Lee Clerk of Court: Help us uncover guardianship fraud