Perhaps the most common yet underreported form of elder abuse involves the financial exploitation of senior community members. Tragically, the perpetrators of these forms of theft include elder care workers, alleged friends of the victims, and even their own family members. For many victims, savings collected over a lifetime are forever lost by these financial lies and deceptions.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported on a local case of similar exploitation. In this example of Chicago elder abuse, a man allegedly stole $900,000 from his elderly aunt whom he was supposed to be protecting. The victim was 91 years old and a widower without any children when her nephew gained power of attorney in 2005. The man was able to obtain the legal power because of the victim’s need for close care upon suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The abusive nephew hadn’t worked for 7 years prior to gaining power over his aunt’s estate. He was surviving only off of disability checks from the Social Security system. However, that all changed when he was given access to his aunt’s finances. Reports indicate that the man slowly sold the woman’s stock, annuities, life insurance policy, and even her home in an effort to pad his own bank account and use for his personal purposes.
He apparently bought a $53,000 Lincoln Navigator, a $30,000 wedding for his son, and even paid for a vacation for 8 people.
Suspicious family members had attempted to intervene in the situation. However, the abuser blocked all efforts. He housed his aunt in the basement of his own house and did not allow others to ask her about her finances or well-being. It was only after she passed away in August of 2008 that other family member fully understood the scope of the financial theft. A civil lawsuit was filed against the man and the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Financial Crimes Unit conducted an investigation. The abuser has since been charged with several felonies for his conduct.
Our Chicago elder abuse lawyers at Levin & Perconti remain shocked at the lengths many will go to take advantage of senior community members. It is perhaps when these individuals are at their most vulnerable, suffering from mental problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s, that those of low repute prey on their weaknesses. Do not let similar Illinois financial exploitation go on without tying to stop it. Be sure to contact local authorities if you have suspicions of similar situation.
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