Financial Elder Abuse Scam Lands SC Man in Jail

SC Resident Guilty of Financial Elder Abuse Scam on California Man

financial elder abuse scamA resident of South Carolina pleaded guilty in September to charges of financial elder abuse in California after he created a fake sweepstakes scam that stole the life savings of a former Catholic priest living in San Diego.

Earl Roberts, Jr, 31 years old, pleaded guilty last month to theft from an elderly person, which is a serious federal elder abuse charge, and on October 9th was sentenced to one year in prison and 5 years’ probation.

Authorities say that Roberts created a fake sweepstakes letter imitating the famous Publishers Clearing House. The letter was sent to Father Michael Ortiz, a retired Catholic priest who worked part-time at a nearby Catholic high school. Ortiz had worked in a priesthood that took a vow of poverty, so his life savings amounted to $40,000 – which Roberts collected all of.

The fake sweepstakes letter said that Father Ortiz had won $1.6 million – which Ortiz said he wanted to use to pay his mortgage and his car, then donate the rest to charity – but that $40,000 in taxes had to be paid up front to avoid a 40% tax later. There was a phone number and the name of a representative to call, which Ortiz did, and he was told to wire the money to a Wells Fargo bank account.

“It is embarrassing, but I think it’s important that people understand there are people out there after your money, especially if you’re elderly like me,” Ortiz said. He added that they can appear highly professional.

“We see a lot of scams like this, but stealing the life savings of a retired priest is really a new low,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “We hope it will be a serious reminder to seniors and their children: Educate yourselves and be aware of scammers waiting to take advantage of you.”

Fortunately, Ortiz was not going to roll over and allow himself to be a victim of financial elder abuse scam: he contacted the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and reported the fake sweepstakes scam to the Elder Abuse Unit.

Financial Elder Abuse Scams and Exploitation

Many states define exploitation as the wrongful use of an older person’s resources for another person’s profit or advantage. State laws use various terms to denote the wrongful nature of the act, such as “illegal,” “improper,” “unjust,” and “without legal entitlement.” Some definitions refer simply to the misuse of the person’s funds, property or person. Some states specify that, to qualify as exploitation, the resources must have been obtained without the older person’s consent, or obtained through undue influence, duress, deception or false pretenses.

Financial Exploitation includes:

  • theft and credit card fraud,
  • stealing identity,
  • using real estate for personal means, and
  • conning nursing home residents into purchasing a fraudulent service or product.

Financial exploitation might not endanger an older person’s health or safety, but it results in the loss of the person’s estate and self-esteem.

The Strom Law Firm Defends Senior Citizens against Financial Elder Abuse Scams

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a financial elder abuse scam 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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