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AN ESTIMATED 1 IN 5 SENIOR CITIZENS WILL BECOME THE VICTIMS OF FINANCIAL FRAUD

AN ESTIMATED 1 IN 5 SENIOR CITIZENS WILL BECOME THE VICTIMS OF FINANCIAL FRAUD

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How to Report Elder Financial Fraud

Learn about the steps involved for victims, loved ones, and financial professionals

Elder financial fraud is an epidemic in this country that not a lot of people know about and even fewer talk about. And “epidemic” isn’t an exaggeration; every year, billions of dollars are scammed and stolen from seniors by trusted individuals, including financial advisors, caregivers, and even their own family members. And what’s worse is that a large percentage of these cases aren’t reported.

Why are older people more susceptible to financial abuse?

Scammers target vulnerable people, and often older people fall into this category. Some recent studies have shed some light on why this is. In an MIT study, when participants were asked if they felt that most people can be trusted, baby boomers were the ones who gave the most yes answers.

In a UCLA study related to trust, it was discovered that seniors had less activity in their anterior insula, which is the part of the brain associated with gut feelings.

Additional research suggests that decision-making regarding finances declines as people get older, yet their confidence in their ability to make good decisions does not. Anger and excitement also play roles when it comes to making financial decisions.

What victims or loved ones should do if they suspect financial abuse

Contact the authorities

The first step is to talk to authorities. This includes contacting the local police station or sheriff’s office to file an official report and getting in touch with Adult Protective Services. If you are the victim or acting on his or her behalf, be prepared to offer as much information as possible. You will need to supply names, dates, and other relevant details.

File complaints with financial agencies

If the circumstances of the abuse involve investments or other things related to the securities industry, you should file a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Speak to an elder financial fraud attorney

An experienced elder financial fraud attorney can offer valuable information about your legal rights. In many circumstances, the best way to recover lost money is through arbitration, litigation, or other legal means, and a lawyer can help guide you through the process.

Seek additional help

For more assistance, there are numerous resources available that can be helpful. AARP has a hotline people can call to report fraud or get information on recognizing scams. The U.S. Department of Justice offers a roadmap that may be useful for victims or their caregivers.

What financial professionals need to know about reporting elder financial fraud

Although laws vary around the country, in many states, people in certain professions – including fiduciaries – are legally obligated to report elder financial abuse if they suspect it. If they don’t make a report, they could face a fine or even jail time. Local law enforcement or Adult Protective Services should be contacted as soon as possible.

In addition, it is important for financial professionals to take a proactive approach to financial fraud. Looking out for the best interests of their clients, they should be aware of possible red flags – including repeated cash withdrawals and the sudden appearance of somebody new who seems to be making financial decisions for a client.

Advisors and firms also need to stay current on all of the latest safeguards that agencies like FINRA and the SEC put in place to protect older investors.

Whether you are a victim or a concerned third party, anyone who suspects elder financial fraud needs to take action. Acting quickly is the best way to reclaim lost money and prevent the offender from victimizing someone else. For a consultation on a situation that may constitute elder financial fraud, contact the Silver Law Group.

Washington, D.C. Elder Fraud Statutes

In the District of Columbia, someone is guilty of financially exploiting an elderly person if he or she:

  • Uses deception, intimidation, or undue influence to obtain the property, including money, of a vulnerable adult or elderly person, with the intent to deprive the vulnerable adult or elderly person of the property or use it for the advantage of anyone other than the vulnerable adult or elderly person
  • Uses deception, intimidation, or undue influence to cause the vulnerable adult or elderly person to assume a legal obligation on behalf of, or for the benefit of, anyone other than the vulnerable adult or elderly person
  • Violates any provision of law proscribing theft, extortion, forgery, fraud, or identity theft against the vulnerable adult or elderly person, so long as the offense was undertaken to obtain the property, including money, of a vulnerable adult or elderly person, or to cause the vulnerable adult or elderly person to assume a legal obligation on behalf of, or for the benefit of, anyone other than the vulnerable adult or elderly person

Criminal and civil penalties for financial exploitation

According to section 22–936.01, a person guilty of elder financial can face a fine of up to $25,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

The civil penalties include a fine of up to $5,000 per violation, an injunction that can be temporary or permanent, and “revocation of all permits, certificates, or licenses issued by the District of Columbia authorizing the person to provide services to vulnerable adults or elderly persons,” as per section 22-937.

Relief from the court

In some cases, the court may decide that an exploited elderly person needs protection. This could result in different measures stated in section 22-938, including a temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or an order temporarily freezing the person’s assets.

When assets are frozen, the court will appoint a receiver or conservator in order for the assets to be used in the care of the elderly person.

If you have lost money due to elder financial fraud, recovering it may be possible through litigation or arbitration. To learn about your options, you can talk to an experienced elder financial fraud attorney at the Silver Law Group.

Call us at 800-975-4345 or send us a message through our online contact form.

Wyoming Elder Fraud Statutes

Wyoming has an Adult Protective Services law that defines exploitation as “the reckless or intentional act taken by any person, or any use of the power of attorney, conservatorship or guardianship of a vulnerable adult.” Examples include:

  • Obtaining control through deception, harassment, intimidation, or undue influence over the vulnerable adult’s money, assets or property with the intention of permanently or temporarily depriving the vulnerable adult of the ownership, use, benefit or possession of his money, assets or property
  • Employing the services of a third party for the profit or advantage of the person or another person to the detriment of a vulnerable adult
  • Forcing, compelling, coercing, or enticing a vulnerable adult to perform services for the profit or advantage of another against the will of the vulnerable adult
  • Intentionally misusing the principal’s property and, in so doing, adversely affecting the principal’s ability to receive health care or pay bills for basic needs or obligations
  • Abusing the fiduciary duty under a power of attorney, conservatorship, or guardianship.

Reporting duties

Under section 35-20-103, if someone suspects exploitation, he or she needs to makes a report containing information about the parties involved and the nature of the abuse. As long as the report is made in good faith, the person who makes it will be immune from civil liability.

However, if someone fails to make a report, this constitutes a misdemeanor, as per section 35-20-111. The penalty for this is a fine of up to $1,000 and/or one year in prison. The same penalties apply for making a false report.

Elder financial fraud penalties

According to section 6-2-507, if someone is found guilty of exploiting a vulnerable adult, he or she has committed a felony. The penalty for this is a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to 10 years. In addition, the offender’s name will be added to the central registry.

It’s possible that victims of financial exploitation in Wyoming can retrieve lost funds. To learn about your legal rights, get in touch with the Silver Law Group. One of our elder financial fraud attorneys will give you a free consultation. Call us toll-free at 1-800-975-4345 or just fill out our online contact form.

Since our firm works on contingency, you won’t owe us any fee unless we successfully help you recover money.

Wisconsin Elder Fraud Statutes

In Wisconsin, examples of financial exploitation include:

  • Obtaining an individual’s money or property by deceiving or enticing the individual, or by forcing, compelling, or coercing the individual to give, sell at less than fair market value, or in other ways convey money or property against his or her will without his or her informed consent.
  • The substantial failure or neglect of a fiscal agent to fulfill his or her responsibilities.
  • Theft or forgery.

A fiscal agent includes:

  • A guardian of the estate
  • A conservator
  • An agent under the power of attorney
  • A conservatorship under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Duty to report

Certain people are obligated to make a report if they believe an elderly person is at risk for exploitation or has been exploited, as per section 55.043. These people include healthcare workers, social workers, and professional counselors.

If a mandated reporter fails to make a report, they could face a fine of up to $500 and/or six months in jail. However, as long as a report is made in good faith, “no person may be held civilly or criminally liable or be found guilty of unprofessional conduct.”

Protective services for victims

Section 55.05 states that victims of financial abuse can get protective services. These are available for someone who believes he or she needs them and makes a request or a person acting on their behalf makes one. In some instances, a court may issue an emergency order for protective services for an abused elderly person.

Elder financial fraud penalties

If the court determines that someone “acted in a manner that was knowing and willful” they will be liable for damages between $500 and $1,000 for each violation.

Help is available for people who lost money due to financial fraud

It may be gratifying to see someone found guilty of financial exploitation have to pay large fines, but that won’t necessarily help victims recover their losses. If you lost money due to fraudulent activities, you may be able to recover it. One of your first steps should be to contact an elder financial fraud lawyer. For a free consultation from an experienced attorney, get in touch with the Silver Law Group.

You can call us toll-free at 1-800-975-4345 or send us a message through our online contact form. We work on a contingency basis, so unless we successfully help you get money back, you will not owe us a fee.

West Virginia Elder Fraud Statutes

In West Virginia, financial exploitation is defined as “the intentional misappropriation or misuse of funds or assets of an elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult, but shall not apply to a transaction or disposition of funds or assets where the accused made a good-faith effort to assist the elderly person, protected person or incapacitated adult with the management of his or her money or other things of value.”

Duty to report

According to section 9-6-9, certain people have to make a report if they believe an elderly person is the victim of exploitation. These include social service workers, religious healers, and nursing home employees. Anyone else also has the option to make a report. The report should contain the name of the alleged person being exploited, the extent of the abuse, and all other relevant details.

Section 9-6-12 states that anyone who makes a report in good faith “shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability which might otherwise arise solely out of making such report.” If a person obligated to make a report fails to do so, however, this is a misdemeanor. The penalty for this is a fine of up to $100 and/or imprisonment in the county jail for up to 10 days.

Protective services for exploited adults

If an elderly person is being exploited, West Virginia has protocols in place to provide assistance. Section 9-6-2 makes it clear that anyone who needs protective services can get it. If a person lacks consent or otherwise can’t accept these services, an emergency order may be issued.

Penalties for financial exploitation

Depending on the assets involved, West Virginia has two different penalties for financial exploitation:

  • If the value of the assets involved is less than $1,000, this is a misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a jail term of up to one year.
  • If the value of the assets involved is $1,000 or more, this is a felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence between two and 20 years.

If you lost money due to financial exploitation, you have a legal right to try to reclaim it. For information on your options, talk to an experienced elder financial fraud attorney at the Silver Law Group.

For a free consultation, call us at 800-975-4345 or reach us through our online contact form.

Washington Elder Fraud Statutes

Washington’s Abuse of Vulnerable Adults Act defines financial exploitation as “the illegal or improper use, control over, or withholding of the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the vulnerable adult by any person or entity for any person’s or entity’s profit or advantage other than for the vulnerable adult’s profit or advantage.”

Examples of financial exploitation include:

• The use of deception, intimidation, or undue influence by a person or entity in a position of trust and confidence with a vulnerable adult to obtain or use the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the vulnerable adult for the benefit of a person or entity other than the vulnerable adult;

• The breach of a fiduciary duty, including, but not limited to, the misuse of a power of attorney, trust, or a guardianship appointment, that results in the unauthorized appropriation, sale, or transfer of the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the vulnerable adult for the benefit of a person or entity other than the vulnerable adult;

• Obtaining or using a vulnerable adult’s property, income, resources, or trust funds without lawful authority, by a person or entity who knows or clearly should know that the vulnerable adult lacks the capacity to consent to the release or use of his or her property, income, resources, or trust funds.

Reporting duties

Section 74.34.035 states that certain people are required to make a report if they believe that a vulnerable adult is being exploited financially. These mandated reporters include law enforcement officers, healthcare workers, and school personnel.

This report needs to include all pertinent information, including the names of the people involved and the nature of the exploitation. When a report is made in good faith, the person who made it will receive immunity from any liability. However, according to section 74.34.053, if a mandated reporter “knowingly fails” to make a report or makes a false report, they are guilty of a misdemeanor.

Cause of action for financial exploitation

Under section 74.34.180, a vulnerable adult subjected to financial exploitation can seek damages for loss of property. The action is available if the defendant is a corporation, unincorporated association, trust, administrator, or partnership.

If you are the victim of financial exploitation, you may be able to reclaim lost funds through arbitration or litigation. For advice from an experienced elder financial fraud attorney, contact the Silver Law Group. We are a contingency-based firm, so you won’t owe us a fee unless we help you recover money.

Call us at 800-975-4345 or just fill out our online form.

Virginia Elder Fraud Statutes

Virginia has four main categories of financial exploitation:

• Larceny – The wrongful or fraudulent taking of personal goods of some intrinsic value, belonging to another, without his assent, and with the intention to deprive the owner thereof permanently.

• Larceny by trick – When a person obtains the property of another by making a false representation of a past event or an existing fact with the intent to defraud the owner of the property by causing the owner of the property to part with the property.

• Embezzlement – When someone wrongfully and fraudulently uses, disposes of, conceals or embezzles…personal property…which he shall have received for another or for his employer…or by virtue of his office, trust, or employment, or which shall have been entrusted or delivered to him by another.

• False pretenses – This involves an intent to defraud, an actual fraud, use of false pretenses for the purpose of perpetrating the fraud, and accomplishment of the fraud by means of the false pretenses.

Reporting duties

Section 63.2-1606 of Virginia’s Adult Services code says that certain people have to make a report if they suspect an elderly person is being exploited. These individuals include healthcare workers, law enforcement officers, and guardians or conservators. Non-mandated reporters can also make a report of they believe someone is the victim of exploitation.

This report needs to contain all pertinent information, including the names of the people involved and the nature of the exploitation. When made in good faith, the person making the report will be immune from any civil or criminal liability. Making a false report constitutes a Class 4 misdemeanor. In addition, if a person obligated to make a report fails to do so, they will be subjected to a fine of up to $500.

Protective services

If an adult age 60 or older is found to be exploited, he or she can request protective services, as per section 63.2-1605. If this person lacks the capacity to consent to these services, they may be ordered by a court or a guardian or conservator. In some instances, an emergency order for protective services may be made.

People who have lost money due to fraud or exploitation may be able to recover it through litigation or arbitration. To learn about your legal rights from an experienced elder financial fraud attorney, contact the Silver Law Group. We work on contingency, which means you won’t owe us a fee unless we help you get back lost funds.

Call us at 800-975-4345 or just fill out our online form.

Vermont Elder Fraud Statutes

Financial exploitation in Vermont has three different definitions:

Willfully using, withholding, transferring, or disposing of funds or property of a vulnerable adult without or in excess of legal authority for the wrongful profit or advantage of another

Acquiring possession or control of or an interest in funds or property of a vulnerable adult through the use of undue influence, harassment, duress, or fraud

The act of forcing or compelling a vulnerable adult against his or her will to perform services for the profit or advantage of another

Reporting duties

According to section 6903 of Vermont’s Human Services statute, certain people are required to make a report if they have a reason to believe that someone is being exploited. These include doctors, teachers, social workers, and healthcare workers. A report can also be made by anyone else who suspects exploitation.

This report should contain the names of everyone involved, the nature of the exploitation, and any other information that could be helpful. The person who makes the report will be immune from any criminal or civil liability if it is made in good faith, as per section 6908. If a mandatory reporter fails to make a report, they could be fined up to $5,000.

Penalties for elder exploitation

If someone is found guilty of financial exploitation and the value of the assets involved is more than $500, the penalty is a fine of up to $10,000 for every violation, according to section 6913.

Elder fraud actions

Section 6952 states that a civil action can be brought against someone who has exploited a vulnerable adult with “reckless disregard or with knowledge.” If the court determines that financial exploitation has taken place, damages could be awarded.

Take action now if you are the victim of elder fraud

Victims of elder exploitation shouldn’t wait for someone else to make a report. If you or a family member has lost money due to fraud, you should talk to an attorney to learn about a victim’s legal rights. For a free consultation from an elder financial fraud lawyer, get in touch with the Silver Law Group. We have a proven track record for helping elderly investors recover money, and we may be able to help you. And because we work on contingency, unless we’re successful, you will not owe us any fee.

Call us toll-free at 1-800-975-4345 or reach out through our online contact form.

Utah Elder Fraud Statutes

The Aging and Adult Services chapter of Utah’s Human Services Code states that someone is guilty of exploiting an elderly adult if he or she:

• Is in a position of trust and confidence, or has a business relationship, with the vulnerable adult or has undue influence over the vulnerable adult and knowingly, by deception or intimidation, obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or use, the vulnerable adult’s funds, credit, assets, or other property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the vulnerable adult of the use, benefit, or possession of the adult’s property, for the benefit of someone other than the vulnerable adult;

• Knows or should know that the vulnerable adult lacks the capacity to consent, and obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or use, or assists another in obtaining or using or endeavoring to obtain or use, the vulnerable adult’s funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the vulnerable adult of the use, benefit, or possession of his property for the benefit of someone other than the vulnerable adult;

• Unjustly or improperly uses or manages the resources of a vulnerable adult for the profit or advantage of someone other than the vulnerable adult;

• Unjustly or improperly uses a vulnerable adult’s power of attorney or guardianship for the profit or advantage of someone other than the vulnerable adult; or

• Involves a vulnerable adult who lacks the capacity to consent in the facilitation or furtherance of any criminal activity.

Duty to report

According to section 62A-3-305, if someone believes an elderly person is being exploited, a report must be made immediately to Adult Protective Services or to local law enforcement. When done in good faith, the person who makes the report will be immune from civil or criminal liability. If someone fails to make a report, they are guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

Elder fraud penalties

The penalties for elder fraud and exploitation in Utah are as follows:

• If done recklessly, this is a class A misdemeanor

• If done with criminal negligence, this is a class B misdemeanor

• If done “intentionally and knowingly” and the value of the assets involved is less than $5,000, this is a third-degree felony

• If done “intentionally and knowingly” and the value of the assets involved is $5,000 or more, this is a second-degree felony

If you or a loved one is the victim of elder financial fraud, the Silver Law Group may be able to help you recover lost money through litigation or arbitration. To find out, call us toll-free at 1-800-975-4345 or send us a message through our online contact form.

Texas Elder Fraud Statutes

In chapter 48 of Texas’s Human Resources code, exploitation is defined as “the illegal or improper act or process of a caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with an elderly person or person with a disability that involves using, or attempting to use, the resources of the elderly person or person with a disability, including the person’s social security number or other identifying information, for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain without the informed consent of the person.”

Reporting duties

Section 48.051 states that any person who believes an elderly person is being exploited has to make a report immediately. This report needs to include the name of the elderly person, the name of his or her caretaker (if this applies), the nature of the exploitation, and any other relevant information.

If someone fails to make a report or makes a false report, this is a Class A misdemeanor. As per section 48.054, as long as a report is made in good faith, the person making it will be immune from any criminal or civil liability.

Protective services

During an investigation of possible exploitation, a state agency will figure out if an elderly person requires protective services. If these services are needed, the department will then determine how they can best be provided. Section 48.205 says that, if available, existing resources and services will be used. In some circumstances – such as for people in remote or rural areas – the department may contract with protective services agencies.

House Bill 3921

In 2017, Texas enacted House Bill 3921, aiming to further protect elderly people from fraud and exploitation. Previously, Texas financial institutions could stop transactions if they believed fraudulent activity was involved, but the new law now gives them immunity from litigation. The hope is that banks and security firms will be more vigilant and willing to step in if they think their customers are in danger.

Do you suspect that you are a victim of elder fraud? Or perhaps a parent or grandparent is a victim? Individuals have a right to seek funds that may have been lost due to financial mismanagement or fraud. To learn about your legal options, get in touch with the Silver Law Group. One of our experienced elder financial fraud attorneys will provide a free consultation. Call us toll-free at 1-800-975-4345 or just fill out our online contact form.

What You Can Do If You're the Victim of Elder Financial Fraud - Elder Financial Fraud Attorneys

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the self-regulatory organization of the investment industry. As such, FINRA expects all registered brokers and firms to follow its best practice and ethics guidelines.

Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. That's why FINRA has developed a list of practice violations that can result in fines and penalties. Among these are:

Scott L. Silver Managing Partner

Scott Silver is the chairman of the American Trial Lawyers Association, Securities and Financial Fraud Group and routinely represents elderly investors and their families. He has extensive experience pursuing claims in arbitrations conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and in federal court for violations of various states' laws against elder abuse.

Scott L. Silver
  • Breach-of-fiduciary-duty

    Breach of Fiduciary Duty

  • Excessive-trading-or-churning

    Excessive Trading or Churning

  • Failure-to-supervise

    Failure to Supervise

  • Unsuitable-investment-advice

    Unsuitable Investment Advice

  • Broker-theft-and-fraud

    Broker Theft and Fraud

  • Trust-and-estate-abuse

    Trust and Estate Abuse

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Investment losses that are the result of a breach of fiduciary duty can be a cause of action in an arbitration claim for damages. In many instances, the failure to disclose all relevant information concerning an investment recommendation may be the result of a conflict of interest between the financial advisor and his client. Financial advisors are required to avoid any conflicts of interest when providing investment advice for financial elder abuse.

Protect you or your loved one’s financial security

Protect you or your loved one’s financial security.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to regain control of a situation that seems to be out of your control.

Many victims – or the family of victims – seek a settlement through FINRA arbitration, which allows the parties to avoid the costs and waiting period associated with the court system, and makes use of an independent third party that, in the case of elder financial fraud, specializes in financial practices.

While it's possible for victims to pursue aSecurities Arbitration without legal representation, it's important to realize that it's a complex process and FINRA does not provide legal advice to any of the parties involved. Investors can and should choose to have an elder financial fraud attorney provide legal guidance through the arbitration process.

Facing this issue is daunting and scary, from both a monetary and personal perspective. Often, this is the moment that an individual or a family member realizes that the lifelong caretaker now needs to be taken care of.

Silver Law Group understands this, and we're with you.

If you think you have been defrauded by a broker, financial advisor, or financial institution, or want to know your rights as an investor, contact our firm. Silver Law attorneys are leaders in the field of FINRA and securities arbitration. We represent individual and institutional investors across the United States who have lost money at the hands of a trusted financial advisor. Our services are provided on a contingency-fee basis, which means we are only compensated if there is a recovery of losses For more information, contact us for a complimentary consultation.

Educational Resources

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    • How to Report Elder Financial Fraud on elderfinancialfraudattorneys.comHow to Report Elder Financial Fraud

      Learn about the steps involved for victims, loved ones, and financial professionals Elder financial fraud is an epidemic in this country that not a lot of people know about and even fewer talk about. And “epidemic” isn’t an exaggeration; every year, billions of dollars are scammed and stolen from seniors by trusted individuals, including financial Read More

    • Washington, D.C. Elder Fraud Statutes

      In the District of Columbia, someone is guilty of financially exploiting an elderly person if he or she: Uses deception, intimidation, or undue influence to obtain the property, including money, of a vulnerable adult or elderly person, with the intent to deprive the vulnerable adult or elderly person of the property or use it for the Read More