Various news outlets reported recently on a case of financial predatory behavior which required the involvement of law enforcement. At a Utah assisted living facility, a Certified Nurses Assistant was accused of significant financial fraud against an 88 year old resident patient. The woman was accused of stealing two credit cards from the resident, one of which was used 15 times in mid-May 2014. On that one card the nursing assistant racked up charges of $2,963.14. She also used the second stolen credit card about 9 times just prior to use of the first, racking up $576.29 in charges. Police arrested and charged the nursing assistant on a third degree felony count of exploitation of a vulnerable adult, as well as three (3) third degree felony counts for unlawful use of a finance card, as well as a class-A misdemeanor charge of theft.
Police arrested the nursing assistant on evidence from security camera footage that captured her making purchases at local businesses where the two credit cards were used. Police showed this footage to a manager at the nursing home, who positively identified the nursing assistant. When police were able to adequately connect the dots, the jig was up for the allegedly abusive (financially) nursing aide. Her bail was set at $21,943.
Elder Financial Exploitation
This case adds on to the long list where nursing home facility staff members take advantage of their residents. Rather than care for them, they seek to enrich themselves. In Utah, as in many locations, exploitation of a vulnerable adult is a serious crime. In Utah, for example, it is defined as the act of preying on a person who is age 65 years or older, or a person who is 18 years of age or older and is physically or mentally impaired such that they might be unable to protect themselves, take care of their own basic necessities like food, shelter, clothing and healthcare, and are otherwise unable to perform basic tasks of everyday living. Furthermore, it includes an adult that is unable to fully understand the circumstances and implications of an abusive, neglectful or exploitive scenario such that they are unable to remove themselves from the situation. By taking advantage of the resident patient’s situation in which she required care because of her age and inability to take care of herself, the nursing aide grossly violated the law that intends to protect patients like this one.
Such acts are not just restricted to swiping credit cards. They may include stealing cash, or taking control of a resident’s bank account by stealing or coaxing the information out of him or her. When a family puts a loved one in a nursing home or assisted care facility, they entrust the care of that person to professionals who are not just trained in supporting the patient medically, but also entrust that the loved one will not be taken advantage of during their stay. Financial fraud or theft constitutes an egregious violation of a nursing home resident, and cannot be tolerated.
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