HAVE YOU OR A LOVED ONE BEEN A VICTIM OF ELDER FINANCIAL ABUSE?

The rate of financial crimes against the elderly is growing.  How do you protect yourself and your love ones?

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My 90 year old mother was the victim of financial elder abuse by her own son. We never even suspected this as a possibility. He often met with us to update my husband and I on her finances, since my husband was very involved.

We were shocked to discover her entire reverse mortgage account totaling 300,000 had been drained using a copy of one single signature faxed in to the lender over and over again:(. He had been providing all of us with counterfeit statements to conceal his abuse. He also opened multiple credit cards using her social security number. We ultimately discovered this when a check bounced in her checking account an the funds were taken from our account since my mother in law was a name on it( related account).

The major issue and damage since discovering this was so traumatic to our entire family. We have dealt with APS, law enforcement, banks,credit bureaus,multiple hospitalizations, conservatorship, power of attorneys, veterans benefits, and letters to many elected officials.

This impossible situation has created a journey for me to learn about the insuffiencies in the system. We were treated like angry family members when we filed a police report and reported this to APS. We have compelling evidence and we are told over and over we have "insufficient evidence to prove criminal intent." This is a common result when there is a family relationship.

I have partnered with Leanne Miller who is also a family member caring for her mother who was the victim by her brother.
Our cases are both very similar an we both feel the victims who have cognitive impairments, need our voice! We both faced the same obstacles and feel compelled to share our experiences to help other victims and families. We are working on the Milli-Billie Justice Project which is named in honor of our mothers, to expose the defiencies in the system, educate elders and families, and promote changes in the law and legislation enforcement.
The standard operating procedures by law enforcement and APS was very inadequate in dealing with our situation. The predator who did this has since moved into another elderly relative. He was never held accountable despite evidence. I fear he is doing this again.

The Milli-Billie Justice Project is a strong proponent for stronger victim rights and better prosecutorial tools to enforce exsisting laws. Hopefully we can use out experience to provoke change to help victims and their families.

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Lisa, Thank you for sharing your story and how painful it is when a family member is the perpetrator in the financial abuse of a loved one. I commend you for harnessing your frustration along with the love for your mother into the creation of the Milli-Billie Justice Project. Thanks to activists like you there is greater visibility of elder financial abuse and new legislation, including regulation requiring financial institutions to report suspected financial exploitation of a senior. I recommend contacting the National Center on Elder Abuse (www.ncea.aoa.gov) for more information and resources on identifying and reporting elder abuse. Much more needs to be done to protect our senior population from financial predators, including strengthening Adult Protective Services throughout the U.S., your work is helping us move in that direction.

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As Lisa mentioned in the above comment, my mother who is in her 90's, was financially exploited. The perpetrators are not strangers and abused their fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of my mom. Her personal identifying information was also used to obtain and reopen dormant credit cards in her name. At age 93, my mother, was destitute and severely in debt. Her trust and bank accounts were drained, her identity stolen all for the personal gain and profit of entitled, greedy and morally corrupt predators.

Undue influence and coercion were used to gain control over my mom and her funds that were to be used for her welfare. My efforts, documented in emails and journals, to report financial exploitation were ignored. Banks, social workers and the very attorney who was manipulated into changing my mom's legal documents, ignored the warnings and evidence of exploitation until it was too late. My mom was diagnosed with dementia before this attorney agreed to draft new legal papers. He did not protect my mom and refused my request to do an accounting of her funds. He called the perpetrators instead.

Lisa and I were living the same devastating nightmare with apathetic agencies, law enforcement officials and a pattern of deficiencies in the system that is supposed to support and advocate for exploited seniors. The sad truth Lisa and I learned was there are no resources for victims financially abused by relatives.
Both Lisa and I have incontrovertible evidence of theft. I was sickened to see that my mom's money was used to support a lavish lifestyle that the perpetrators desired in order to impress their friends and even a church congregation. My mom's welfare was completely neglected. She was evicted from her assisted living facility where she had resided for 5 years. Moving her into a less than desirable facility was very difficult for her and she was hospitalized multiple times.

Social media put Lisa and I together last year. We bonded instantly over our grief for our mothers whose quality of life was diminished substantially from the abuse. We shared our stories of being dismissed by officials who felt this was just a "family dispute." Our moms, Milli and Billie, certainly did not give their permission to be left impoverished at the end of their lives.
The Milli-Billie Justice Project was born out of our desire to advocate for victims without voices and educate the public about what really happens when seniors are exploited. We can't remain silent on this growing epidemic.
As our aging population grows, we will be faced with the moral task of protecting seniors, especially those cognitively impaired, from exploitation. Some reports indicate that over 70% of financial abuse is committed by adult children. The Met Life Mature Market study found that over $2.9 BILLION is lost each year due to this exploitation. This is unacceptable.
Our society must take actions to end the injustices Milli and Billie suffered. Our parents and grandparents have the right to live their lives in a safe environment with access to the best care possible. As Lisa stated, The Milli-Billie Justice Project will advocate for victim's rights and for prosecutors to enforce laws that protect seniors from financial abuse to include family members. This event was a huge betrayal and it will weigh on me for the rest of my life.
Milli and Billie are lovely women who have interesting stories to be told and deserve to be recognized for the lives they lived.
Leanne