February 01, 2013 - RECOGNIZING FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION -- February 2013
The National Center on Elder Abuse defines financial exploitation as “the illegal or improper use of an adult’s funds, property, or assets”. To the Law Enforcement Officer investigating a financial exploitation case, a determination must be made on whether the exploitative act constitutes conduct that can be classified as a crime, such as forgery, theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, stolen checks, fraudulent use of a credit card, or fraudulent handling of recordable writings, just to name a few.
Here are a few signs that help law enforcement officers and concerned family members determine if a financial exploitation crime is occurring:
1. The exploiter is attempting to isolate the elder from all other family members and friends.
2. The exploiter exerts a controlling and overbearing presence when interacting with the elder, and he or she refuses to leave the room so that the elder can be interviewed privately.
3. The exploiter offers to assist with banking activities and the use of debit or ATM cards and offers to become the elder’s Power of Attorney.
4. There is erratic and inconsistent banking or credit card activity, including unusual transfers of assets, a flurry of ATM withdrawals, and other uncharacteristic activity on the elder’s accounts.
5. Sudden changes to the elder’s legal papers.
6. Missing mail.
7. Acquaintances who are new on the scene, and interrupt the elder when he or she attempts to speak.
The presence of these factors is just a simple list of indicators that helps determine if an older person is vulnerable to financial exploitation. If there is a serious concern that an elder is being exploited or abused in any way, the State of New Hampshire Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services should be notified. Law Enforcement Officials should also be notified so that a thorough investigation, using numerous resources, can be completed in a timely manner with a multi-agency approach.
From the desk of Officer Jane Constant
Senior Relations Division
Nashua Police Department
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