Financial crimes and exploitation can involve the illegal or improper use of a senior citizen's funds, property or assets, as well as fraud or identity theft perpetrated against older adults.
While exact statistics on how often financial crimes against the elderly occur are not available, it is widely believed to be underreported by the victims. A recent study published by MetLife Mature Market Institute estimates the financial loss by victims of elder financial crimes and exploitation exceeds $2.9 billion dollars annually.
Thirty-three states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico addressed financial exploitation of the elderly and vulnerable adults in the 2015 legislative session.
Twenty-three bills and resolutions were enacted or adopted in 2015. California required a sentencing court to consider issuing a restraining order to prevent defendants from contacting older or dependant adult victims and required that the death benefit payable to people 65 years of age or older to be at least equal to the annuity value or accumulation value, excluding any surrender charges or penalties upon death, for annuities and insurance contracts with cash surrender benefits.
Colorado expanded its mandatory reporting law to include adults with intellectual or development disabilities and clarified that financial institutions must report if a person directly observes abuse or exploitation. Among several items, Connecticut gave abused, neglected, exploited, or abandoned elderly people a civil cause of action and required certain financial agents to receive training on elderly fraud, exploitation and financial abuse. Georgia provided for abuse, neglect and exploitation of disabled adults and elder persons as a rackeeering activity.
Illinois changed the civil liability provision of financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person. Maine included financial exploitation in the definition of abuse. Missouri permits specified individuals to report the occurrence or suspected occurrence of financial exploitation for a person 60 years of age or older or a person with a disability between the ages of 18 and 59.
Montana enhanced protections from securities fraud for the elderly or persons with developmental disabilities. Nevada required broker-dealers and investment advisers to provide training to specified persons concerning the identification and reporting of suspected exploitation of older persons and vulnerable persons. North Carolina clarified that upon conviction for exploitation of an older adult or disabled adult, any seized assets shall be used to satisfy the defendant's restitution obligation as ordered by the court. Oregon provides that financial institutions may refuse to pay any check, draft or order if the officers or employees have reason to believe that the person signing or indorsing the instrument is a victim of financial exploitation and adds personal support workers and home care workers to the list of mandatory reporters of the abuse of children, elderly persons and other vulnerable persons.
South Dakota established a task force to study elder abuse in the state. Tennessee classified the financial exploitation by a caretaker of an adult as a Class D felony and required the district attorney to freeze the assets of anyone charged with taking property valued at $5,000 or more until the criminal proceedings are complete. Washington modified definitions concerning vulnerable adults, including the definitions of abuse and sexual abuse; includes improper use of a restraint, personal exploitation, mental abuse, chemical restraints, hospitals and mechanical restraints.
California proclaimed and acknowledged the month of June 2015 and June of every year thereafter as Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse Awareness Month. Delaware recognized June 15, 2015, as Delaware Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
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