Financial abuse is a difficult and often-overlooked form of abuse. The most common victims of this type of abuse include the elderly. Financial abuse can take many forms. It can include intentional fraud of the elderly and scams which target the elderly. It can include a caregiver threatening or harming a person unless they give them money. It can involve a caregiver persuading an elderly person to surrender assets against their will.
Financial abuse is difficult to spot. Unlike slip and fall accidents, physical abuse, and other problems, it often leaves no physical clues and causes no obvious personal injuries. Loved ones and family members may not realize what it happening unless they keep a close watch over an elderly loved one’s finances. Unfortunately, many families want an elderly relative to remain independent and therefore refrain from asking financial questions. This can allow a perpetrator to continue to abuse his or her victim. Many victims are ashamed or fearful that their independence will be taken away, and abusers use this to keep the abuse hidden.
There are many reasons why the elderly are often targeted by financial abuse perpetrators. The elderly often do not have very close contact with relatives so that it is easy for the abuse to remain undetected. Some elderly persons suffer from undiagnosed dementia or other illnesses which make them easy targets. Even when an elderly person is not ill, a perpetrator will often blame the victim’s age or infirmities (“you’ve forgotten that you gave me your car to keep”). As well, some elderly persons do not keep up to date about online scams and other common scams, which makes them easy targets. Many elderly persons also make attractive victims because they have retirement savings and investments they have spent a lifetime accumulating.
Even if financial abuse is detected, it can be hard to discern what has happened. It can be hard to determine, for example, whether an elderly loved one meant to surrender assets or meant to make certain gifts of cash or not. If a person is ill, it can be hard to determine what they intend and what was coerced. Many perpetrators are very wily in making financial schemes seem like a victim’s idea. In many cases, victims themselves defend the perpetrator and claim that they intended to surrender cash or assets.
In many cases, the assets or cash are simply gone or spent, and this frustrates families who have discovered financial abuse. In these cases, it is important to contact a good Florida personal injury attorney. An attorney can conduct an asset search and financial forensics to trace the money and assets received by the perpetrator. In some cases, attorneys can recover part or all of the assets or can seek legal action against the perpetrator.
Above all, it is important for families and friends of elderly persons to be aware of financial abuse. Signs of abuse include sudden lack of funds (which can manifest itself in reduced circumstances, poor diet, weight loss due to savings and unusual “money saving” behaviors). Victims may seem heavily under the influence of a perpetrator and may act afraid of him or her. They may be depressed or angry. They may seek loans or be trying to make financial arrangements in order to save whatever money they have remaining. If you see these signs, contact the police or a personal injury attorney for assistance.