Twin Cities readers have likely seen some pretty despicable stories about the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. Many of these stories involve tactics of coercion employed by someone in a position of trust. Almost universally, the exploiter steals away the life savings of a senior citizen and spends it for his or her own benefit.
The most tragic cases of financial exploitation tend to be those involving family members of the victim. Theft from a loved one in support of a drug habit, as was the case in one recent story, may represent the worst case scenario of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.
Police investigators say that a drug-addicted son plundered more than $80,000 in cash withdrawals from his own mother's bank accounts between 2007 and 2011. When his drug habit left the bank account depleted, police say that the man coerced his mother into granting him financial power of attorney. He then turned to his mother's investment account and bled it dry.
Police charged the son with criminal financial exploitation of an elderly person, but that will do little to provide for his mother's well being throughout the later years of her life. Police have questioned family members about the incident, but an outside observer can only wonder how such a travesty could have go on unnoticed for years.
Minnesotans have heard it before, but sad news stories continue to emphasize the importance of staying involved with the financial affairs of an elderly loved one. Although this recent story comes out of South Carolina, anyone who has reason to suspect that a loved one or family member may be the victim of financial exploitation needs to be aware that fast action can be taken to end exploitation and preserve the property necessary to support an elderly family member's golden years.
Source: Charleston Daily Mail, "Man accused of stealing from 88-year-old mother to support drug habit," Sept. 18, 2012