Thursday, December 8, 2011

Scammers Exploit Close Ties To The Elderly To Carry Out Their Handiwork

A column in reports on the ripoffs targeting the elderly by family members and others with close personal contact to the victims. An excerpt:

  • [T]here was the lonely, elderly man looking for a housekeeper. The middle-aged woman who replied to the ad cleaned at first but soon became more than an employee - within a week she had moved into the home and soon convinced him to get married.

  • With a marriage certificate, the new wife arranged a trip to a notary's office to have property transferred into joint tenancy - the notary's interview with the husband revealed he did not even know his new wife's name, and the notary refused to prepare the transfer as he was clearly incapacitated.

  • But a trip to a lawyer who did not know the elderly male gave the new wife all she wanted - her name added to the title, and using that to establish a $150,000 line of credit which she used to buy another home in her name.

  • With her husband's children growing suspicious, she convinced him to move to that new house and within six months they had plowed through all of his assets, and he died penniless and estranged from his children.

  • There is also the story of an elderly woman, housebound for medical reasons, who asked a notary for help changing her will to ensure one of her sons, who was disabled, would be cared for from the proceeds from her only asset, a waterfront home.

  • The notary advised her she should have an independent executor and power of attorney. However, the woman believed her other son, a successful lawyer who did not get along with his brother, would object if he was not given power of attorney.

  • When the mother's health deteriorated, the lawyer son moved her to a care facility and used the power of attorney to transfer the family home into his name, all but disinheriting his brother.

For the column, see Elders vulnerable to financial abuse (As our population of seniors grows, so does the incidence of fraud and it's often by family members).

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