SC Woman Stole More than $72K from Elderly Patient, Charged with Financial Elder Abuse

financial elder abuseWoman Charged with Financial Elder Abuse for Stealing Social Security Checks from Elderly Woman for Months

A Midlands resident has been charged with financial elder abuse after she reportedly stole more than $72,000 from a 74-year-old female patient for a period of 10 months.

Sun Hee Chun, 57, has been arrested and charged with exploitation of a vulnerable adult. She was arrested on Thursday, August 22nd.

According to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, between March 2011 and January 2012, Chun served as the victim’s Power of Attorney. With the legal powers imparted by the official title, Chun stole more than $72,000 in the form of the victim’s social security income, which amounted to $1,100 a month. Because social security checks are now deposited directly into the receiver’s bank account through direct deposit, Chun used her legal power to access the victim’s bank account and remove the money.

The missing funds came into question while the victim received treatment at a health care facility. Caregivers there contacted police about potential financial elder abuse. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department Victim Services Unit began an investigation.

Unfortunately, during the course of the investigation, the victim died as the result of medical complications.

“The victim had to die without the funds she so desperately needed,” said Lott. “Funds that were stolen from her by Chun.”

Chun was transported to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center to await a bond hearing.

Financial Elder Abuse and Exploitation

In addition to neglect and abuse, South Carolina’s Office of Aging recognizes a third risk that aging adults are exposed to: exploitation. The two most prevalent forms of elderly exploitation is financial abuse and medical fraud.

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.

One type of exploitation is a breach of a fiduciary relationship, such as a guardianship or power of attorney, in which the older person’s property is misappropriated or resources are misused. A plaintiff who seeks to prove financial exploitation may need to rely on a different set of experts than those relied upon in matters of abuse and neglect. Rather than physicians and nurses, his or her attorney may retain accountants and computer experts to show the loss of resources and explain the transactions at issue.

In financial elder abuse, aging adults are taken advantage of by caregivers (related or unrelated). This can occur by home health care workers or at nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

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

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