Financial Elder Abuse Fastest Growing Crime in America

Financial Elder Abuse Fastest Growing Crime As Elderly Population Grows

financial elder abuse fastest growing crimeA new study from the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows that financial elder abuse is the fastest growing crime in the United States. According to Adult Protective Services, 60% of their cases involve theft of money or property from an elderly person.

Most cases of financial elder abuse unfortunately involve an unscrupulous family member, according to the study. Women are twice as likely as men to become victims of financial elder abuse, and victims are typically between the ages of 80 and 89, and live by themselves. Because senior citizens in those age ranges suffer more health problems than other older populations, like dementia or movement problems, they rely more heavily on caregivers and family members to help them, which puts them at a much higher risk of becoming victims.

However, caregivers hired by family members, as well as administrators at nursing homes, are also responsible for numerous cases of financial elder abuse. A recent survey of allegedly 5-star nursing homes – a ranking system created by Medicare to help the elderly and their families choose good quality care – showed that most of the criteria for the rating was self-reported, which means that many of those supposedly high-quality facilities bill seniors out of their money and fail to provide sufficient care.

The survey interviewed senior citizens in New York State over the phone, and 2.7% reported that they had suffered financial elder abuse sometime in the last year, while an alarming 4.7% reported some type of financial elder abuse occurring regularly over several years. About 78% of respondents reported theft of property or misappropriation of funds sometime in the past year; 42% said that financial elder abuse occurred between 2 and 10 times in the past year; and 9% reported such serious and regular financial elder abuse occurring more than 10 times in the past year.

Financial elder abuse cases ranged from identity theft to neglect to contract fraud. The survey reported 59% of the financial elder abuse cases involved a family member, usually an adult child, while 16.9% involved a neighbor, and 14.9% involved a paid caregiver.

“Financial exploitation of older adults is a common and serious problem, and especially happens to elders from groups traditionally considered to be economically, medically and socio-demographically vulnerable,” said Dr. Janey Peterson of Weill Cornell Medical College, who headed the study. “In addition to robbing older adults of resources, dignity, and quality of life, it is likely costing our society dearly in the form of increased entitlement encumbrances, health care, and other costs.”

On February 22, 2011, The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Treasury also reported that financial elder abuse was a growing concern, and that banks count do something to help. The federal financial agency suggested that banks use the SARS form – the suspicious activity report form, which is commonly used to report suspected money laundering.

Unfortunately, there is no current federal law against financial elder abuse, but many states have laws and regulations under Adult Protective Services to prosecute financial elder abuse, as well as physical, emotional, or sexual elder abuse.

The Strom Law Firm Defends Senior Citizens against Financial Elder Abuse

If you or a loved one has been the victim of financial elder abuse or exploitation by your care facility, nursing home, caregiver, or a relative, contact us today. Come in for a free consultation with one of our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers to discuss your situation and hear how we can help. 803.252.4800

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