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Financial Exploitation of Elders More Than Doubled Last Year, DC Attorney General Says

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DC Attorney General Karl Racine said his office has received more than twice as many complaints involving financial exploitation of seniors over the last year as the previous year.

Racine released a statement on Thursday for Older Americans Month, urging District residents to do more to keep seniors safe from abuse, neglect, and exploitation, by learning more on the issue and reporting these actions to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) “so older Americans can live their golden years with dignity.”

“Older residents have faced a great deal of isolation during the pandemic and could be more likely to fall victim to scams. In fact, referrals to my office of financial exploitation of seniors have more than doubled over the last year,” Racine said.

“Protecting seniors and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation begins by understanding the warning signs of these harmful practices. We know that for every one case of elder abuse that gets reported to authorities, there are often dozens more that never come to light. My office can only prosecute cases we hear about, so increasing awareness of elder abuse and reporting is key so we can hold abusers accountable, get relief for victims, and prevent further abuse,” he added.

Racine also announced that his office has resolved several cases involving the financial exploitation of senior and vulnerable adults in DC and held perpetrators accountable.

In one of the cases, a daughter was ordered to pay a $5,000 penalty for spending over $11,000 of her now-deceased mother’s Social Security income for her own needs. The mother suffered from Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.

In another case, a nephew is accused of stealing over $70,000 from the bank account of his uncle, who has a severe disability, to pay for luxuries including hotel stays, shopping trips and restaurant meals. As a result of OAG’s lawsuit against him, the nephew was prohibited from any further contact with his uncle and using his uncle’s funds. The nephew also agreed to repay $74,000 to his uncle and $10,000 in civil penalties to settle the suit. In addition, the Probate Court appointed a guardian and conservator to protect the uncle’s interests.

The third case is against a Maryland woman who is accused of misusing her grandmother’s credit card for personal shopping trips, forging a check for around $5,000 in her grandmother’s name, using her grandmother’s card more than 75 times without her knowledge and taking more than $14,000 from her grandmother in total. She was ordered by the court to pay restitution and civil penalties in response to OAG’s lawsuit.

‘OAG is a one-stop shop for information on elder abuse’

“Unfortunately, elder abuse is more common than most people realize. It’s important to know the warning signs, how and when to report it, and to know that AARP is here and on the side of the 50+ fighting with information and advocacy against all forms of elder abuse including financial,” said Louis Davis, AARP DC State Director, praising the OAG for its efforts and describing it as a “one-stop shop for information on how older adults in the District can protect themselves from abuse and exploitation.”

If you are or know a District senior or vulnerable adult experiencing abuse, neglect, or exploitation, you should take one of these steps:

  • File a report with Adult Protective Services (APS) by calling the 24-hour hotline at (202) 541-3950.
  • File a police report with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) by calling the police at (202) 265-9100.
  • Contact OAG’s Elder Justice Section at (202) 727-3807 or elderjustice@dc.gov.

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