Saturday, May 27, 2023

Psychiatrists: The Criminals Behind the Scenes of the Conservatorship Business

By Erica Loberg 

When I saw the email come in, I froze.

The message described a psychiatrist who had allegedly committed perjury, which sealed the deal for a conservatorship to be put in place for a vulnerable, elderly wealthy woman. The psychiatrist presented a psych evaluation in court, diagnosing his victim with a delusional disorder. She had no previous mental health diagnosis, nor a history of psychiatric treatment, but nonetheless, the diagnosis was accepted by the judge.

I remember thinking to myself, this criminal network runs deeper than I thought, and this is really bad.

It was the same conservator that my mom had been previously placed under, and I immediately started to panic. I had the same thoughts that I had during my mom’s conservatorship nightmare: If it was so easy to get someone with no psychiatric history seamlessly diagnosed and locked into a conservatorship, how many other vulnerable people out there were at the mercy of this network of corruption?

Around 1.5 million Americans are under a conservatorship. Many will point the finger at the conservators as the primary focus of criminal behavior; however, the web of corruption runs deep, with layers of complicit individuals that work in conjunction with the conservators to allow them to take over someone’s entire life—both financially, and in terms of their personal well-being.

Rarely do you find discussions about the doctors behind the scenes who are vital to establishing a conservatorship. For the most part, without a psychiatric evaluation, a conservatorship cannot usually be solidified, which means the psychiatrist plays a fundamental role in the process.

After years of exposure to these criminal practices, I have come to understand that there’s almost no escape, even if you have a loved one who will try to help you by fighting the system of conservatorship abuse. The doctor’s note rules; the psychiatrist’s evaluation is held as the proof and the high standard that anyone fighting a conservatorship must defy. Since psychiatrists and conservators work together to implement a conservatorship, it is no surprise that in addition to these cultivated relationships there are also established ongoing relationships with the same judges, attorneys, and court-appointed counsel.

Since it is crucial to have a doctor’s note, the power and influence the doctors have within the layered network of conservatorships is monumental. They can deem someone incompetent and submit it to the court, which seals the deal on an individual’s future. Most of the conservators have relationships with these doctors. They work in cahoots to make sure their victim’s liberties are usurped for pure financial gain. Consequently, these corrupt doctors receive kickbacks from conservators that want those clients for astronomical wealth. Psychiatrists charge an exuberant amount of money for a psych evaluation, and if you want a different doctor’s evaluation to be considered by the court that’s more money out of your pocket you have to spend. Even if you have the funds to request another evaluation, the chance of reversing a diagnosis is slim to none.

Sadly, if you are a family fighting for a loved one to get a new doctor for a new psychiatric evaluation, you are going to pay thousands of dollars. Even then, that evaluation is up against the conservator’s chosen doctor’s evaluation that is already in place and documented in court, so your chances are low and will only amount to more doctors’ bills when attempting to make a case to stop or change a conservatorship.

Since a mental illness can be for life, once a person gets a diagnosis that results in a conservatorship, it is practically impossible to remove it. Therefore, if you are diagnosed with a mental illness, you are caught in the conservatorship trap. Now you have a doctor that can stand in the way of anyone’s chance to fight a conservatorship, as the courts rely heavily on their evaluations. Whether you are alone with no one to fight for you, or with a family member willing to fight for you, either way you are up against a criminal system that makes a corrupt conservator almost impossible to resolve.

When you have a corrupt conservator working with these compromised doctors to gain and keep clients, tragedy unfolds. If the Department of Justice would examine the relationships the conservators have with their chosen psychiatrists penning these notes, they will find similar stories: the same doctor, working with the same conservator, over and over again, acquiring conservatees who get stuck in the system all along the way.

If we want to take a serious look at changing the conservatorship process and successfully have legislation set forth for reform, there needs to be a deep examination into these relationships with conservators and the doctors making these evaluations. Unfortunately, these doctors manage to stay out of the spotlight, when really they are just as predatory as the conservators that stand in line to steal someone else’s life.

The most troubling yet telling aspect of this process is that the psych evaluations are locked. There is no transparency on evaluations, so no one can even begin to dispute or question their analysis. When it comes down to it, the heavy hand the psychiatrists play in the mental health world of conservatorships is far larger and more dangerous than anyone can even imagine. If a patient has no family or friends for support and are stuck in a hospital alone and end up in a locked facility, that’s one thing. But a person that has friends and family to look after them, yet still can’t beat a system that initiates the same protocols and same process to allow a conservatorship with no end in sight is another thing.

Take Los Angeles, for example. My mom’s previous conservator has been operating for decades. Since my mom’s emancipation from him, I have come across numerous victims stuck in his trap. Currently, he is working with the same court-appointed attorney that was assigned to Britney Spears to get another wealthy woman placed under his care. Yes, Spears’ conservatorship was dropped after years of public advocacy, which brought attention to her case, but, to date, she’s the only one. No conservatorship has been lifted in the state of California except for Spears, but she is a celebrity and had an ongoing #FreeBritney moment to apply pressure on the courts, while the rest of us are civilians fighting on our own.

I remember my mom’s first conservatorship hearing at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. The same courthouse in which Spears’ case was heard, which needs to be under investigation at this point. I walked in with evidence of victims all across LA County who had gotten sucked into that conservator’s grip, but the judge immediately shut me down. That judge has since retired, yet if my mom’s conservator was consistently leaning on the robes of the same judge, is that not a red flag?

Court-appointed attorneys working with the same conservators is an easy correlation to question, as would be a look into the doctors that pop up again and again in these cases. Why are the same conservators working with the same psychiatrists, often in front of the same judges? These doctors have managed to operate under the radar and rig the system.

We need to dig deeper into the doctors who conduct these evaluations, who hide behind their sealed documents with no transparency and zero accountability. If a family member wants to get rid of a conservator that is working in conjunction with a psychiatrist that is making money on their evaluations, the family most likely loses any chance to succeed. There are a lot people playing into the criminality of the structure of the judicial system that are all liable for foul play, as there are payoffs to all the complacent and compliant operators within this business.

There is a lot to be said about conservatorship abuse and who is to blame and who is in charge, but when it comes down to it, in my opinion, the doctors are the real criminals that no one seems to be talking about or questioning. The root of corruption in conservatorship abuse begins and ends with the criminality of the doctors. If we want to truly address the complexities of conservatorship abuse, we must look to the doctors that sit at the helm of this shipwreck.

Just recently, I heard yet another example of how conservators use psychiatrists to keep their hands in the cookie jar. A family member offered to take over and remove a corrupt professional fiduciary conservator, and the conservator’s lawyer argued that the conservatee needed a psych evaluation in order to determine his mental competency, which somehow would justify keeping his conservator tethered to his estate. The family and conservatee wanted the conservator removed, so the conservator, alongside his compliant psychiatrist, skewed the narrative and presented the conservatee as “unfit” to make that decision. This occurs across the board in numerous cases when the psychiatrist is at play.

Arguments like, “a transition wouldn’t be good for him,” or “I don’t want to lose his caregivers” are flat-out lies. I’ve dealt with that nonsense firsthand. My mom was hospitalized twice, and the first time, the caregivers remained at her side on their phones and I questioned why they were still on the clock when my mom had a professional treatment team at her disposal. The second time, she was hospitalized for Covid and was in isolation for three weeks so she couldn’t have any caregiver by her side, but everyone continued to get paid around the clock. Yet, any caregiver that advocates for my mom gets fired on the spot. Is that continuity of care? No.

Who picks the psychiatrist? The conservator. Who pays for the psychiatrist? The conserved individual. Who is left in the dark? You, me, and everyone else struggling outside of this locked-down, well-oiled criminal machine. I might not have a voice once a conservator takes charge, but I do have a say here and now. I refused to be silenced by this madness, and nor should you.

Full Article & Source:
Psychiatrists: The Criminals Behind the Scenes of the Conservatorship Business

AG Nessel Sues Avid Telecom Over Illegal Robocalls

by  Danny Wimmer, Press Secretary

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is suing Michael D. Lansky, LLC, which does business under the name Avid Telecom, its owner Michael Lansky, and its vice president, Stacey S. Reeves, for allegedly initiating and facilitating billions of illegal robocalls to millions of people and violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and other telemarketing and consumer laws. Avid Telecom sent or transmitted more than 7.5 billion calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry between December 2018 and January 2023 – approximately 195,332,233 million of those calls were to numbers in Michigan.

“In 2021, Michigan residents received more than 1.2 billion robocalls, about 500 million of which were scam robocalls,” Nessel said. “This lawsuit will hold accountable businesses and business owners who knowingly route illegal robocalls through their networks, as well as provide consumers with some relief from these intrusive calls.”

Avid Telecom is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider that sells data, phone numbers, dialing software, and/or expertise to help its customers make mass robocalls. It also serves as an intermediate provider and allegedly facilitated or helped route illegal robocalls across the country. Between December 2018 and January 2023, Avid sent or attempted to transmit more than 24.5 billion calls. More than 90 percent of those calls lasted less than just 15 seconds, which indicates they were likely robocalls. Further, Avid helped make hundreds of millions of calls using spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, including more than 8.4 million calls that appeared to be coming from government and law enforcement agencies, as well as private companies. 

Avid Telecom allegedly sent or transmitted scam calls perpetuating Social Security Administration scams, Medicare scams, auto warranty scams, Amazon scams, DirecTV scams, credit card interest rate reduction scams, and employment scams. 

The US Telecom-led Industry Traceback Group, which notifies providers about known and suspected illegal robocalls sent across their networks, sent at least 329 notifications to Avid Telecom that it was transmitting these calls, but Avid Telecom continued to do so. AG Nessel has already sued one of Avid Telecom’s customers in Texas federal court. Avid Telecom helped that customer send more than four billion robocalls between May 2019 and March 2021.

Today’s legal action arises from the nationwide Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force of 51 bipartisan attorneys general. The task force is investigating and taking legal action against those responsible for routing significant volumes of illegal robocall traffic into and across the United States. The Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General provided investigative assistance in this matter.

AG Nessel is joined in filing the complaint by the Attorneys General of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

A copy of the complaint is available here.

AG Nessel Sues Avid Telecom Over Illegal Robocalls

Woman avoids trial in Genesee County abuse case, pleads to lesser charge

Genesee County Circuit Courthouse on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 in downtown Flint. (Jake May |

By Joey Oliver 

FLINT, MI – A 61-year-old woman avoided trial Tuesday by pleading no contest to reduced charges.

Lori Rosebush was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree vulnerable adult abuse in the death of 68-year-old Bonnie Fisher, who weighed less than 70 pounds when she was found by authorities in June 2020.

But Rosebush, scheduled to appear before Genesee County Circuit Court Judge David J. Newblatt Tuesday, May 23, for trial on the charges instead pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.

The abuse charge was dismissed altogether.

With the plea, Rosebush entered into a sentence agreement that stipulates she receive 36 months probation with no up-front jail time.

A sentencing date was scheduled for July 21.

Rosebush was Fisher’s sister and caretaker.

A 911 call on June 12 at a Bloor Avenue home led paramedics to contact the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office Elder Abuse task force.

Fisher was found inside the home. Rosebush had called 911.

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson previously said that Fisher, who was cognitively impaired, weighed only 69 pounds and had not seen a doctor in four years at the time of her death.

Investigators and the county medical examiner estimated Fisher has not been moved from her bed since fall 2019.

Swanson added that an autopsy revealed the victim was malnourished, had broken bones and was unable to articulate her pain.

Robert Hammond Stilwill, a friend of Rosebush’s, was also charged in the case.

However, he was sentenced by Judge David J. Newblatt earlier this year to 24 months probation after previously pleading no contest to first-degree vulnerable adult abuse.

Full Article & Source:
Woman avoids trial in Genesee County abuse case, pleads to lesser charge

Friday, May 26, 2023

94-year-old grandmother gets big win at Supreme Court

'The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, but no more,' said Chief Justice John Roberts in Tyler v. Hennepin County

By Brianna Herlihy , Bill Mears , Shannon Bream

The Supreme Court ruled in favor Thursday of a 94-year-old Minnesota grandmother who claimed that the state violated her constitutional rights when they seized her condo over an unpaid tax debt, then sold the property and kept all the sale proceeds — which were far above what she actually owed.

Geraldine Tyler owned a condo which Hennepin County seized as payment for approximately $15,000 in outstanding property taxes, penalties, interest and costs. The home was then sold for $40,000. Under the state's forfeiture laws, the county kept the surplus proceeds — in this case to the tune of $25,000. 

Tyler argued that the government violated the Fifth Amendment's "Takings Clause" by confiscating property worth more than the debt owed by the owner. Lower courts ruled against her and dismissed her case, but the Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously sided with her arguments and held that she brought a valid claim under the Takings Clause.

"The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, but no more," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court's opinion. 

The home of a 94-year-old grandmother, Geraldine Tyler, was seized by Minnesota for unpaid taxes. (Pacific Legal Foundation)

"The Takings Clause 'was designed to bar Government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole,'" the opinion stated. 

"A taxpayer who loses her $40,000 house to the State to fulfill a $15,000 tax debt has made a far greater contribution to the public fisc than she owed," it said. 

The Supreme Court building

The Supreme Court is seen at sundown in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The opinion noted that "Minnesota law itself recognizes in many other contexts that a property owner is entitled to the surplus in excess of her debt."

"If a bank forecloses on a mortgaged property, state law entitles the homeowner to the surplus from the sale. And in collecting past due taxes on income or personal property, Minnesota protects the taxpayer’s right to surplus," the decision stated. 

"Minnesota may not extinguish a property interest that it recognizes everywhere else to avoid paying just compensation when the State does the taking," it continued. 

Tyler's lawyers had argued in court that Minnesota's policy that the state gets to keep the surplus of a seized asset was a "home equity theft scheme."

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts authored the unanimous opinion in the Tyler v. Hennepin County case. (Julia Nikhinson-Pool/Getty Images)

Her lawyers also argued that the state violated the Excessive Fine clause of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which bans the government from imposing unduly harsh fines for a crime. 

"Because we find that Tyler has plausibly alleged a taking under the Fifth Amendment, and she agrees that relief under ‘the Takings Clause would fully remedy [her] harm,’ we need not decide whether she has also alleged an excessive fine under the Eighth Amendment," Roberts wrote.

Justices Neil Gorsuch and Ketanji Brown Jackson addressed the excessive fine issue in a concurring opinion, claiming that the law favors Tyler there as well.

"Economic penalties imposed to deter willful noncompliance with the law are fines by any other name," they said. "And the Constitution has something to say about them: They cannot be excessive."

The case was argued before the court on April 26. 

Full Article & Source:
94-year-old grandmother gets big win at Supreme Court

Federal Judge: 'Bank Owes No Duty' to Stop $3.68M in Wire Transfers in Suspected Elder Financial Exploitation Case

While the number of elderly people targeted slightly decreased from 2021 compared to 2022, the amount of money collectively lost nearly doubled from $1.7 billion to $3.1 billion, respectively, according to the FBI's most recent report.

By Allison Dunn

What You Need to Know

  • Janine Satterfield sued Wells Fargo and Navy Federal Credit Union after they transferred $3.68 million from her uncle's accounts to Thailand as part of allegedly known scams.
  • The banks filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the plaintiff's state law claims relating to Cook's wire transactions are preempted and displaced by Article 4A of Virginia's Uniform Commercial Code—which applies to wire transfers and has been codified under Virginia law as Section 8.4A.
  • A federal judge sided with the banks, concluding that while a bank can be liable under Section 212 for not accepting a payment order, no provision of Section 8.4A imposes liability on a receiving bank that properly executes a duly authorized wire transfer by the sender.

As cyberthreats continue to evolve, courts remain reluctant to hold banks responsible for failing to intervene when some of the most vulnerable customers fall victim to phishing and financial exploitation.

Older adults are a key group targeted by some of these financial scammers. While the number of elderly people targeted slightly decreased from 2021 compared to 2022, the amount of money collectively lost nearly doubled from $1.7 billion to $3.1 billion, respectively, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation‘s most recent report.

As in previous years, the number of complaints filed by individuals over 60 continued to increase for fraudulent schemes involving the tech and customer support sectors, as well as investment and cryptocurrency scams. The average dollar loss per victim was $35,101 in 2022 compared to $18,246 in 2021, while the number of victims who lost more than $100,000 last year was also close to doubling with 5,456 victims, according to the report.

But just because victims are losing more funds doesn’t mean there is always legal recourse to hold banks, the source of those funds, accountable—yet.

At least, that’s what Fairfax, Virginia-based Hale Ball Murphy partner Kimberley Ann Murphy hopes to change for her client, Janine Satterfield, despite a federal judge dismissing a lawsuit earlier this month in an attempt to hold banks responsible.

Satterfield, on behalf of her uncle, Larry W. Cook, whose judgment and cognition was severely impaired from a 2019 stroke, sued Wells Fargo and Navy Federal Credit Union to recoup the nearly $3.68 million that they allegedly wired from his accounts to Thailand as part of a six-month, suspected and ongoing scam.

“You’re responsible for reviewing outgoing wires, especially at an institutional level. Once it’s left this country, you don’t know what you’re funding,” Satterfield, who has worked in the financial services industry for more than 30 years, told

After Cook’s death in April 2021, his family discovered transactions. Satterfield initially brought claims of assumption of voluntary duty, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and negligent/voluntary assumption of duty in Fairfax County Circuit Court, but the defendants subsequently removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Satterfield claimed Wells Fargo processed one international wire transfer, but claims that Navy Federal continued to process a total of 74 transactions—despite warnings to Cook that he was likely caught up in fraudulent activity and attempts to connect him with social services for possible elder financial exploitation, though the former Navy commander declined assistance.

“They could have just stopped processing the wires. They didn’t have to process them,” Murphy told “They don’t have to process them, there’s no requirement that they must do it, they can simply not.”

U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton of the Eastern District of Virginia disagreed. Earlier this month, he sided with the banks and granted their motions to dismiss on the ground that the plaintiff’s state law claims relating to Cook’s wire transactions are preempted and displaced by Article 4A of Virginia’s Uniform Commercial Code—which applies to wire transfers and has been codified under Virginia law as Section 8.4A.

“Plaintiff argues Navy Federal and Wells Fargo had a duty to protect Cook and prevent his losses by not accepting his payment orders. While a bank can be liable under Section 212 for not accepting a payment order, no provision of Section 8.4A imposes liability on a receiving bank that properly executes a duly authorized wire transfer by the sender. Further, a ‘bank owes no duty to any party to the funds transfer except as provided in this title or by express agreement.’ Va. Code § 8.4A-212,” Hilton wrote.

The UCC further states that liability is preempted on the bank for conduct that happens before the bank accepts a payment order. Additionally, the bank does not have a duty “‘before acceptance, to take any action, or refrain from taking any action, with respect to the order except as provided in this title or by express agreement,’” the order said.

Even though Cook did not cooperate with an Adult Protective Services investigation, Hilton said there was not a sufficient basis to impose a duty not included in the party’s contact. Furthermore, the judge also found that there was no contractual agreement to create a relationship between Cook and the banks.

“Under Virginia law’s economic loss rule, a plaintiff may not rely on a tort theory to recover losses against a defendant. See Filak v. George 267 Va. 612, 618 (2004),” he wrote. “Here, plaintiff’s claims all stem from obligations due to a contractual deposit agreement between defendants and Cook. Since the source of defendants’ duties arise out of a contractual duty, and plaintiff’s claim for negligence focuses on conduct arising out of that contractual duty, the claim is founded in contract, not tort.”

The plaintiff disagreed with Cook’s analysis.

“According to how the law is being interpreted—which we disagree with—you cannot obtain damages for the wires because they went where they were supposed to go—notwithstanding the fact that they knew it was part of a known scam,” Murphy told “They knew that there was something wrong and continued to do it, and they were cooperating in an [Adult Protective Services] investigation. I just don’t understand how it is that they can say, ‘We can’t do anything.’ That’s absurd.”

In a statement provided to, a Navy Federal spokesperson said that the company respected the court’s decision. The global credit union, which is headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, was represented by Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders partners David M. Gettings and Mary C. Zinsner.

“Wells Fargo takes financial exploitation very seriously. We are committed to helping our customers avoid fraud and scams through various resources, including ongoing education efforts,” company spokesman Jim Seitz also told

Heather B. Chaney of McGuireWoods in McLean, Virginia, represented Wells Fargo.

In the meantime, the plaintiff’s legal team is weighing its options for a motion at the district court level before appealing. Murphy said she is also considering a legal strategy under the Bank Secrecy Act/the Anti-Money Laundering Examinations, under 31 U.S.C. Section 5311, which establishes reporting requirements for national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches.

“From a legal perspective, to sue them, there’s not that many roads available, but there are cases that are coming up more frequently,” Murphy said.

But even for the savviest of individuals who fall victim to some of these ruses, the law simply isn’t on their side and hasn’t been for some time.

Five years ago, three-lawyer real estate and corporate transactional law firm O’Neill, Bragg & Staffin, based in Warminster, Pennsylvania, fell prey when a hacker posed as a partner of the firm, Gary Bragg, and emailed another partner about a loan transaction of which the hacker seemed to have intimate knowledge.

In the correspondence, the hacker addressed partner Alvin Staffin by his nickname, Mel, and asked for a $580,000 transfer from the firm’s IOLTA sub-account to the Bank of China on behalf of a client.

Bank of America made the transfer at Staffin’s request. After the transfer was made, Staffin called Bragg to discuss it, finding out only then that Bragg had no knowledge of the $580,000 request.

The firm’s client’s account had insufficient funds to cover the transfer, only $1,900, according to the complaint. However, Bank of America drew from the firm’s other IOLTA sub-accounts belonging to other clients to cover the fraudulent transfer, the plaintiffs claimed.

The firm sued Bank of America for failing to stop the transfer once it had been notified of the breach, but in November, a federal judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed the action, finding that the firm failed to show that the bank breached any agreement, violated federal regulations or breached the Pennsylvania Commercial Code.

As for recommendations for other attorneys focused in elder law and estates, Murphy recommended that their clients have all estate planning documents, including a financial power of attorney, on file with the bank. Having a trusted family member on file can also be helpful, she said.

“The legal profession needs to be more aware that financial exploitation is not always by a family member or caregiver,” Murphy told “This is criminal activity that’s happening and really and truly needs to be taken seriously. People need to be prepared to have serious conversations with their family members.”

Full Article & Source:
Federal Judge: 'Bank Owes No Duty' to Stop $3.68M in Wire Transfers in Suspected Elder Financial Exploitation Case 

See Also:
An elderly man was scammed out of millions. Could the bank have done more to prevent fraud?

Wyoming AARP Advises Seniors Of Scams Involving A.I. Voice Cloning

Scammers are adept at manipulating the latest technological advances to commit their crimes.

These days it’s happening in the world of artificial intelligence – commonly known as A.I.

A.I. voice cloning is already bringing a new twist to scams that have been around forever.

For instance, the grandparent scam calls now can feature the actual voice of the loved one the criminal is impersonating.

These tactics are startling, but the ways we protect ourselves haven’t changed.

The first sign of any fraud attempt is when an unexpected contact causes an immediate emotional reaction – often fear, panic, or excitement.

Maybe training our brains to disengage when we feel that emotional surge could be the best way to disrupt the criminal act.

Otherwise, stay updated on the latest fraud tactics by Clicking here.

Know that anytime you are asked to address some urgent financial matter with a gift card, cryptocurrency or peer-to-peer payment app, it’s a scam.

More than 369,000 incidents of financial abuse targeting older adults are reported to authorities in the U.S. each year, causing an estimated $4.8 billion in losses.

And those numbers likely understate the problem considerably.

However, as we approach World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th, it’s good to remember that there are things we can do to stop elder financial exploitation.

Encourage your loved one to designate someone they trust to help them with financial decisions.

The federal government’s Eldercare Locator can help you find free or low-cost legal assistance.

Suggest they add a trusted contact for their financial institutions if they are unreachable or if questionable activity is detected.

A trusted contact is not able to make transactions, but the financial institution can disclose some account information to them. 

Also, watch out for someone — even someone you thought you or your loved one could trust — who discourages contact with family and friends, exerts pressure on financial decisions or asks for large sums of money. 

Most importantly, financial exploitation is a crime and should be reported to your local police or Sheriff or even to 911.

Be a fraud fighter!  If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.

Full Article & Source:
Wyoming AARP Advises Seniors Of Scams Involving A.I. Voice Cloning

Thursday, May 25, 2023

What’s Going On In South Carolina’s Probate Courts?

Funny business in Florence County … and possibly beyond.

by Jenn Wood

Dana Hanna chuckled in 2017 when her mother-in-law, Georgia “Jo” Hanna, asked her for $2.00 for a hot dog. Jo told Dana her debit card wasn’t working, and Dana assumed she was using the wrong card as she was known to do sometimes. Dana wasn’t concerned because Jo had substantial assets and things like that happened from time to time. She told her husband, Craig Hanna, who hopped in his car and drove to Jo’s house to ease her mind.

Craig didn’t realize at the time that what he as about to uncover would initiate a years-long legal battle to protect his mother – a battle that continues to this day.

Jo had been married to Carlos M. Hanna for 44 years when he died on December 14, 2010 — the same year the estate tax briefly expired. Carlos and Jo had two sons — Brad and Craig (Dana’s husband) — and a successful business in Florence County. Carlos founded Coastal Sanitary Supply in Florence in 1969. The business supplied half of South Carolina with janitorial supplies and sanitation equipment – including public entities such as jails, courts and school districts.

In 2004, Carlos underwent a successful heart transplant – after which he recovered and returned to running his business. On December 14, 2010, Carlos took his medicines and started seizing, vomiting, and having diarrhea. Jo called her son, Craig, and informed him he needed to come over immediately as something was wrong.

When Craig arrived, his father died in his arms. 

Carlos was a planner. He left behind detailed wills and trusts created by Gary Crawford, a Florence-based estate planning attorney. Crawford died by suicide on March 19, 2023 – shooting himself in the head in his car, which was parked outside of his law office. We’ll share more of Crawford’s story in a moment, but first let’s get back to the Hannas.

Per Carlos Hanna’s instructions, Crawford prepared two documents … 

  • A last will and testament which, at the time of his death, decreed that everything he owned would go to his wife – Georgia “Jo” Hanna. It listed her as the personal representative of his estate.
  • “Trust B,” which decreed that if Jo were unable to run the family business in the same capacity as Carlos did when he was alive, it would be placed into a trust to be managed by their sons, Craig and Bradley. This trust would pay Jo’s living expenses through her sons – and with Jo receiving Carlos’ salary. (Craig says his father knew that Jo – who spent forty years as a nurse – had no interest in running the business, so the trust was obviously the document to be followed).

The Hanna assets were significant. In addition to Coastal Sanitary Supply, the estate included a Florence residence, a vacation home, commercial properties, farm, timber, boats, vehicles, and commercial leases which brought in rental income. Carlos also had stocks, bonds, and life insurance. Dana wasn’t concerned on her drive over to Jo’s house, but when she arrived and pulled up her mother-in-law’s accounts, she quickly realized something was wrong.

Dana informed her husband, Craig, and when he began researching further he discovered his brother, Brad, had allegedly taken Jo Hanna to meet with Crawford – and had him transfer all of her assets to him for $5.00.

All of this happened without any notice to Craig …

In 2018, without Craig knowing, Jo Hanna was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Brad Hanna petitioned the Florence County probate court have her declared as incapacitated. That petition was approved by Florence County probate judge, J. Munford Scott. A sheriff’s deputy served Jo Hanna with a notice of the hearing to declare her incapacitated. In an effort to protect her, Craig petitioned to obtain guardianship of his mother to ensure her health and safety were being monitored as his brother and his wife only saw her a couple times a year.

When this petition was approved, he gained access to Jo Hanna’s medical records. Upon reviewing those records, he discovered a 2017 document which revealed that Brad’s wife – Cassie Powers Hanna, a pharmacy doctor – had taken Jo in for a neuropsychology evaluation that same year. The evaluation indicated Cassie had concerns about Jo’s cognitive skills going as far back as 2012 – prior to her signing her assets over to Brad for $5.00.

While Craig was relieved he could now ensure his mother’s health and well-being, the guardianship didn’t give him any money for this purpose. At same time Craig petitioned to be his mother’s guardian, he also requested a third-party conservator be appointed to oversee what remained of his mother’s finances. The judge immediately granted Craig’s guardianship request, but held back on the decision regarding the conservatorship for few months. 

Florence County, S.C. court house (Will Folks/ FITSNews)

Shortly before he retired, judge Scott quietly appointed Bradley Hanna to serve as the conservator for Jo Hanna. This decision placed one brother in charge of Jo’s health and safety – and the other in charge of her finances.

Upon learning his father’s probate estate was still open from 2010, Craig sought to be appointed as a successor to the personal representative of Carlos Hanna’s estate. That was done so he could attempt to close the estate file which had remained open. On November 16, 2022, his petition to be appointed in this role was approved by Florence County probate judge Jesse Cartrette.

Craig went to the Florence County probate court and pulled his father’s file. It soon became readily apparent why he wasn’t receiving any information concerning the estate. The address Crawford’s office listed for him on the “notification to heirs and devisees” was incorrect. When he dug deeper into this address, he realized it didn’t even exist. For years every notification regarding his father’s estate had been sent to an address that never existed — leaving him unaware that everything in the estate was being fraudulently transferred, allegedly, by Craig’s brother and his attorney, Gary Crawford.

On February 7, 2023 – four-and-a-half months ago – a letter was submitted by judge Cartrette indicating his prior approval of Craig as successor had been in error due to a conflict of interest. Cartrette recused himself and recommended the case be transferred out of Florence County owing to the conflict. Jo Hanna’s guardianship and conservatorship case had already been transferred to Darlington County probate court under judge Marvin Lawson and Carlos’ estate was transferred by order of the S.C. Administrative Law Court (SCALC) and S.C. chief justice Donald Beatty to Georgetown County probate court

Lawson made some interesting moves in Jo’s case – appointing Darlington County treasurer Jeff Robinson to serve as her conservator and S.C. state representative Cody Mitchell to serve as her guardian. This removed her son and strongest advocate, Craig Hanna, from his role. It also erected significant roadblocks for Craig if he hoped to continue advocating for her and protecting her assets moving forward.

As all of this was unfolding, Craig contacted Gary Crawford’s law office to obtain the files for his father’s estate. When he learned of Crawford’s death by suicide, he grew even more concerned. Crawford’s law firm changed its online status to “permanently closed,” and his office staff told Craig they would have to get back to him regarding his request.

He has yet to receive a return call – or any of the files he requested.

Back to Crawford: Every licensed attorney in South Carolina is required by law to have a clear plan of succession in place detailing what is to happen in the event of their death or disability. Successor attorneys identified on each lawyer’s annual license fee statement. Gary Crawford was no exception – listing Brown Johnson of Florence as his successor. According to a notice on Facebook, though, Johnson’s entire law firm resigned on May 18, 2023 – this past Thursday – further complicating things for former clients of Gary Crawford, many of whom are still trying to obtain their files from his office.

Craig Hanna recently hired a new attorney – Tucker Player of Columbia, S.C. Last week, Player issued subpoenas to Gary Crawford’s office on behalf of a number of clients attempting to obtain their case files. According to Player, his process server was surprised when Crawford’s wife, Becky Crawford – his longtime office manager and paralegal – refused service.

Last week, Player filed a motion in Darlington County probate court to vacate an order issued by judge Lawson allowing for the sale of Jo Hanna’s primary residence. This motion detailed some aspects of what many believe to be a broader scheme to defraud multiple victims. Jo’s primary residence, a stately brick home in Florence on a beautiful tree-lined street in a prestigious neighborhood, was approved for sale by judge Lawson. According to Player’s motion, though, Lawson “issued an unconstitutional and illegal order providing for the sale of the most valuable tangible asset of (Jo) Hanna without providing any notice or opportunity to be heard to the parties in this action.”

Attached to Player’s motion was a letter from Charles Ipock – an attorney with the Haynesworth Sinkler Boyd law firm – requesting judge Lawson’s order be issued “without notice, as allowed under the South Carolina Probate Court.”

Wait … what? Such lack of notification is permitted under state law?

When Player examined the statutes cited in the order, he realized one did not exist and the other “specifically prohibits” such notices. According to Player, without required notice to the parties in this case the court had no legal right to issue its order.

Player noted Lawson’s order was issued on April 18, 2023 – just hours after Craig Hanna appeared at a judicial reform press conference at the S.C. State House with solicitor David Pascoe. While at the press conference, Hanna saw his former attorney – S.C. senator Gerald Malloy – and his mother’s guardian, representative Cody Mitchell, numerous times in passing. Neither made any attempt to speak with him or acknowledge him, according to Craig, which he thought was bizarre.

According to Player, “the motion to sell Georgia Hanna’s real estate, and its accompanying correspondence requesting the petition be granted without notifying any other party, was mailed to this court on the exact same day. Unless the United States Mail Service has developed instantaneous transporters, the motion could not have reached this Court until April 19, 2023. This court received the motion, considered the motion, drafted an order granting the motion, and filed the Order within 24 hours of receipt.”

Lawson’s order allowed for the sale of Jo Hanna’s home with zero notice to the parties with interests in that real estate. Player said in his quarter century of practicing law, he has never seen an order issued in this manner as even “first year law students are aware of the Due Process clause of the United States Constitution and its fundamental requirement of notice.”

Home of Jo Hanna. (Provided).

Player further noted there is nothing in the file to justify the sales price of the home other than “an approved but an unsworn hearsay statement from some realtor.”

“There is no appraisal, no repair estimate, no pictures, no testimony, nothing that is required of an acting fiduciary to dispose of property owned by another.”

The sale of this property leaves Jo Hanna with only one asset remaining in her name – her cemetery plot. To date, over $20 million worth of assets have reportedly been transferred from her estate.

Among the questions the Hannas and their attorneys are hoping to answer: Why are motions and orders being issued with an ostensibly concerted effort to avoid all parties knowing about the sale of these properties? Who is benefiting from these property transfers? And was the sudden death by suicide of Gary Crawford tied to any of these actions?

And perhaps the biggest question of them all: Are there other cases like this one?

This news outlet has been told to expect a motion early next week which will answer many of these questions – and likely rock the already scandal-scarred South Carolina legal community to its core.

In the meantime, I would remind everyone reading this article that FITSNews has an open microphone policy – one which encourages any individuals named in our reports to address our audience directly. (Click to continue reading)

Full Article & Source:
What’s Going On In South Carolina’s Probate Courts?

Alabaster man charged with elder abuse, unlawful use of pepper spray

Carson Roberts is being held in the Shelby County Jail on a $135,000 bond.(Shelby Co. Jail)

By WBRC Staff

ALABASTER, Ala. (WBRC) - A 21-year-old man from Alabaster is charged with elder abuse and neglect and unlawful use of pepper spray.

Carson Roberts is being held in the Shelby County Jail on a $135,000 bond.

Alabaster Police responded to a call from an elderly woman who had been attacked May 11.

Elder abuse and neglect is defined as the intentional or reckless infliction of emotional or mental anguish or the use of a physical or chemical restraint, medication, or isolation as punishment or as a substitute for treatment or care of any person over 60 years of age by Alabama Criminal code 13A-6-191.

The law states: “A person commits the crime of elder abuse and neglect in the first-degree if he or she intentionally abuses or neglects any elderly person and the abuse or neglect causes physical injury to the elderly person.”

Elder abuse and neglect is a Class A felony and holds a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Unlawful use of pepper spray is defined in the Alabama Criminal Code 13A-6-27 as the use of defense spray including, but not limited to pepper spray, foam and any other self-defense chemical spray against the person in the commission of a crime or against a law enforcement officer while the law enforcement officer is performing his or her official duties.

Unlawful use of pepper spray holds a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Full Article & Source:
Alabaster man charged with elder abuse, unlawful use of pepper spray

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Joliet woman admits to bilking elderly victim out of $1.6M

By FOX 32 Digital Staff

- A Joliet woman admitted last week to a series of threats and intimidation to bilk an elderly man out of more than $1.6 million. 

Lee Turner, also known as "Ashley Turner," 40, pleaded guilty last Tuesday to one count of using a facility of interstate commerce to promote and carry on unlawful activity — namely theft and intimidation.

In a plea agreement, Turner admitted that from 2018 to 2021, she communicated numerous threats and fraudulent statements to the victim, who was in his 70s and had limited vision. 

Turner threatened to expose the victim's purported criminal activity, even though Turner had no knowledge of such activity committed by the victim, prosecutors said.

Turner also took on false personas to convey false statements purportedly from others, including alleged gang members, individuals involved in organized crime, prosecutors, journalists and corrupt law enforcement officers.

In one example, Turner used the alias "Big Joe" and sent a series of messages to the victim claiming that the victim had to pay $30,000 to prevent law enforcement from raiding the victim's residence and a relative's residence. 

On June 13, 2019, the victim paid Turner $30,000 to avoid the purported raids.

The money was one of dozens of similar payments, ranging in value from $5,000 to $66,000, that the victim made to Turner, prosecutors said.

Turner received $1,611,975 in total from the victim, the plea agreement said.

Sentencing for Turner is scheduled for Sept. 8.

Full Article & Source:
Joliet woman admits to bilking elderly victim out of $1.6M

CT caretaker sentenced to 45 months in prison for stealing over $300K from elderly woman

Abigail Wood has been sentenced to 45 months in prison for stealing $340,000 from an elderly woman, exploiting her role as a caretaker.

By Justin Muszynski

A Sharon woman has been sentenced to prison for bilking more than $300,000 from an elderly woman while she was serving as a caretaker for her.

Abigail Wood, 39, was sentenced to 45 months in prison during a hearing Friday in the Litchfield Judicial District courthouse in Torrington. Her sentence will be followed by three years of probation during which time a violation would expose her to more than six additional years behind bars.

Wood’s sentence came after she pleaded guilty to one felony count of first-degree larceny.

Wood was arrested by Connecticut State Police in April 2021 after an investigation revealed that she, in her role as a caretaker, was misappropriating funds belonging to an 88-year-old Sharon woman, according to court documents.

A financial advisor for the elderly woman contacted her power of attorney to let him know about what appeared to be excessive expenses related to her medical needs, court documents said.

State police then launched an investigation and found that Wood spent $340,000 of the victim’s money on things like salon visits and restaurant tabs, according to court papers.

Full Article & Source:
CT caretaker sentenced to 45 months in prison for stealing over $300K from elderly woman

Dayton nursing home where woman went missing had been fined more than $140K by Medicare

by: Carlos Mathis

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The nursing home where the late Penny Boddie lived had been fined and cited by the government numerous times prior to her going missing.

2 NEWS received a statement from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), that said the case of Boddie, the woman with dementia who went missing from CareCore at Mary Scott, is currently under investigation. She was last seen at the facility on Sunday, May 14, at 9:30 p.m. Just days later, on Wednesday, May 17, the Dayton Police Department said Boddie had been found dead.

DPD says they believe no foul play is suspected.

“Any loss of life is always tragic,” ODH said. “The incident is being thoroughly investigated by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and pending the outcome of the investigation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will issue their decision and may impose penalties.”

The nursing facility was given two out of five stars for an overall rating on  

Inspections conducted by the state of Ohio show the overall health rating for the nursing home is one star, which is described as ‘Much Below Average.’ Staffing at the facility received a one-star rating as well.

On July 21, 2022, the facility received its latest noted health inspection, according to the full report. During the inspection, a total of 20 citations were given, well above both the state and national average. In Ohio, the average is 10.2 health citations, while the national average is 8.7.

Medicare also reports nine complaints over the past three years that resulted in a citation for the location. One citation came from an infection control inspection, which took place sometime in the past 3 years, Medicare said.

The facility also was subject to 5 federal fines totaling $141,806 over the past 3 years, including one for $110,885 in July 2022, Medicare reports.

The quality measures rating at Mary Scott is ranked five stars, which is considered as ‘Much Above Average.’ There is limited data for short-term stays at the facility as recorded by the government. Medicare gives out the rankings based on data from chosen clinical data measures. For quality measures, Medicare says the more stars a facility has means the performance is better.

“The quality measures star rating measures parts of nursing home performance in certain areas of care, like if residents have gotten their flu shots, are in pain, or are losing weight,” according to Medicare.

2 NEWS looked through the Ohio Department of Health and complaint surveys that have been completed by the state. Three survey results are shown to have been completed in 2023, with the most recent being from March 10.

We reached out to CareCore at Mary Scott on Tuesday, May 16 for comment. The facility told 2 NEWS they had no comment and would not answer any questions at that time.

Full Article & Source:
Dayton nursing home where woman went missing had been fined more than $140K by Medicare

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

You’re invited! A free panel on Pennsylvania’s troubled guardianship system

by Spotlight PA Staff

When older adults are declared legally incapacitated, guardians are appointed to take over decision-making regarding their health or financial affairs. Pennsylvania’s guardianship law is set up to protect older people from potential fraud or other forms of abuse.

Despite those efforts, claims of abuse and financial exploitation by guardians have made their way to the courts. A Spotlight PA review of some of these cases and conversations with people who specialize in elder law revealed flaws in the guardianship system and other shortcomings in safeguarding this vulnerable population.

On Thursday, June 1 at 6 p.m. ET, join Spotlight PA’s Angela Couloumbis and other expert panelists for a free Q&A on Pennsylvania’s elder protection laws and how they could be improved.

Our panelists include:

  • Angela Couloumbis, investigative reporter for Spotlight PA

  • State Sen. Art Haywood (D., Philadelphia)

  • Steve Feldman, lawyer specializing in health and elder law

  • Tina Paone, professor of education counseling and leadership, Monmouth University

RSVP for free here. Submit your questions in advance to

Full Article & Source:
You’re invited! A free panel on Pennsylvania’s troubled guardianship system