How Banks, Marketers Aid Elder Scams (

How Banks, Marketers Aid Elder Scams (

July 1, 2009

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how difficult it was for our family to stop con artists from scamming an elderly relative who was convinced that he was on the verge of winning big lottery and sweepstakes prizes.

Digging into our family’s experience yielded another surprise: Some common business practices may have actually helped the scams continue, such as the sale of direct marketing lists and banks’ moves to automatically cover overdrafts—an issue that President Barack Obama has flagged for attention under his proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

When our relative began to fall behind on bills, he agreed to give power of attorney to a son, who started paying the mortgage and other big bills, as well as reducing the amount available in his dad’s checking account. What the son didn’t count on was that the bank would automatically cover up to several hundred dollars a month of his father’s overdrafts, which essentially gave him more money to send to scammers. In addition, he was charged $33 for every overdraft—running up hundreds of dollars in fees. When the son called Sovereign Bank, his father’s longtime bank, he was told that the protection was standard and that he couldn’t turn it off.

Steven Mantelli, Sovereign’s senior vice president for retail banking, says the bank provides overdraft protection “on a courtesy basis” for customers, and it isn’t typically shut off. But in isolated situations, he says, the bank will stop it.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal – USA
An interesting article. Please go to SOURCE for full-text.

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A Call for Stiff Penalties for those who Abuse the Elderly (USA)

Stiff Penalties for those who Abuse the Elderly

Grand Rapids Press Editorial

June 19, 2009

As the population ages, the problem of elder abuse is expected to spread. Stiff penalties for abusers might help keep the problem in check.

The four-month jail term meted out this week in an Ottawa County case of shocking elder abuse has put a spotlight on a largely hidden social problem. While child abuse and domestic violence have rightly been elevated in the public eye, the abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly warrants attention as well. That’s especially true as the population nationally and in Michigan grows grayer.

What’s more, the jail term given Ottawa County resident Carol Maneke for leaving her father in squalid living conditions has prompted criticism about whether the punishment fits the crime. Her father, Max Canfield, 87, died in a hospital in 2006, a week after being taken out of a filthy Tallmadge Township duplex. Maneke lived in the adjacent half of the duplex and was her father’s legal guardian. According to relatives and police, he died from malnutrition-related weakness. It’s ironic and disconcerting that Maneke was sentenced on Monday, which was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

The authorities got involved in this case after Mr. Canfield’s granddaughter said she was not allowed to see him and became concerned about his welfare. Police and social workers found the decorated World War II veteran lying on a soiled mattress with adult diapers, trash, pop cans and animal feces all around. They had to tape and seal their pant legs before entering the roach-infested duplex.

Maneke’s prosecution on charges of vulnerable adult abuse was delayed in part because she moved to Pennsylvania and authorities had trouble finding her. She could have received up to nine months in jail, according to sentencing guidelines for her conviction on a charge of second-degree vulnerable adult abuse. Police looked at whether Maneke could be charged with some form of homicide but decided the evidence did not support it because Mr. Canfield had other medical issues that may have contributed to his decline.

Nevertheless, the high end of the more modest charge certainly would have sent a stronger message that sub-standard care for the elderly is not acceptable.

Because studies show that the most likely abusers of the elderly are their own family members, it’s a problem that can go unnoticed and unreported. National statistics suggest only one in five cases is reported.

We can all play a role in making Michigan a safe place to grow old by being as vigilant about elder abuse as we are becoming about child abuse and domestic violence. Our senior’s golden years should not be tarnished by abuse, neglect and exploitation. Those who cross the line by abusing the elderly should pay an appropriate price. Our courts should see to that.




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Summit Aims to Educate Clergy Members about Elder Abuse (CA. USA)

26 June, 2009

An educational summit was held in Cupertino Thursday to train clergy members on how to look for signs of elder abuse.

According to the Mercury News, clergy members were added to a state list of “mandated reporters” five years ago and are required by law to report to authorities if they suspect abuse or neglect of seniors.

But despite the new law, organizers of the abuse summit say the problem is continuing to grow and that no reports of abuse have been filed by any clergy members in the county since then. Betty Malks, project director of the Elder Abuse and Neglect Initiative, says it is very important for churches to be educated about this issue because elders have the highest church attendance rates.

According to Malks, sixty to ninety percent of all cases involve family members. Malk says financial elder abuse is a hidden crime that often goes unreported. National statistics show only one in 100 cases are ever reported.

“That’s due to the shame and humiliation that’s involved with financial abuse especially if it’s in your family. You know, many people will say to me, ‘I didn’t raise my kids to do this,’” said Malks.

In Santa Clara County, Malks says 39 to 40 percent of all reports made to adult protective services involve elder abuse.

The Mercury News reports there are an estimated 700 churches, temples and mosques in the county. Malks hopes that by working with these faith-based organizations, more awareness will be spread about the problem.


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Kiwanians Hear About Elder Exploitation (FL. USA)

Kiwanians hear about elder exploitation


The program for the weekly Kiwanis luncheon on Tuesday, June 23, was presented by Glenda F. Swearingen, an attorney from Marianna. Swearingen’s practice focuses on elder law, and her topic Tuesday was elder exploitation in Florida.

According to Swearingen, “exploitation” is when a person in a position of trust and confidence by deception or intimidation obtains, uses, or attempts to obtain or use a vulnerable adult’s funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive a vulnerable adult of the use, benefit or possession of the funds, assets or property for the benefit of someone other than the vulnerable adult.

Common types of elder exploitation are: identity theft, imposter fraud, mail fraud-solicitation, moving scams, investment scams, long distance calling scams, home repair fraud, charities fraud, telemarketing fraud, and water softener scams.

Sadly, the most common exploiters of the elderly are children, with other relatives or friends also common. Least likely are the siblings of the elder person.

A test for these scams is, IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT IS!

If you know of or suspect exploitation of a vulnerable adult, Florida law requires everyone to report the problem to Adult Protective Services immediately. The Florida Abuse Hotline is 1-800-96-ABUSE. The Florida Elder Help Line is 1-800-963-5337. The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-500-1119.

SOURCE: Chipley Bugle – Chipley,FL,USA

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Elder Fraudster Found Guilty (CA. USA)

Man faces more than 300 years for $11 million Ponzi scheme



June 30, 2009

A San Juan Capistrano man faces more than 300 years in prison after being convicted of almost 700 felonies for defrauding 125 people of $11.4 million, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

In a case billed as one of the largest elder-abuse cases ever handled by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Jeffrey Butler, 51, was deemed guilty of 693 counts – the majority of them involving financial elder abuse and the sale of unqualified securities, according to Deputy District Attorney William Overtoom.

The jury deadlocked on another 86 counts – leading Orange County Superior Court Judge James Stotler to declare a mistrial on those charges.

Butler was found not guilty on another 30 counts.

The reading of the verdicts began Monday morning and ended at about noon Tuesday.

Butler’s wife, Peggy Warmuth Butler, 49, was found guilty of four counts of filing false tax returns. She began crying when Stotler said he would allow her to remain free until sentencing for the couple, which is scheduled for Sept. 18.

Jeffrey Butler remains in custody at Orange County Men’s Jail until sentencing.

He was arrested in February 2006 and accused of defrauding senior citizen clients by pretending to help them prepare their wills and trusts.

The trial, which began in November, last almost eight months and included testimony from 92 victims, prosecutors said.


SOURCE: OCRegister – Santa Ana,CA,USA


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Cost-Cutting; Report Reveals Elderly ‘time bomb’ (Scotland, UK)

Cost-cutting planned as council report reveals elderly ‘time bomb’

25 June 2009

By Andrew Keddie

COUNCILLORS will hear today that health and social services in the Borders are sitting on a time bomb because of a dramatic predicted increase in the number of elderly people in the region.

A report signed off by Scottish Borders Council social work director Andrew Lowe reveals that, in just 11 years time, the number of residents aged over 65 will rise by 40 per cent, while over the same period those aged 85 and over will rocket by 57 per cent.

Significantly, the number of Borderers suffering from dementia is also expected to surge by more than 50 per cent by 2020.

And, at 2007/08 prices, the extra cost to cash-strapped SBC and NHS Borders will be £8.2million a year – up 39 per cent on the two organisations’ current expenditure on old people.

And, at 2007/08 prices, the extra cost to cash-strapped SBC and NHS Borders will be £8.2million a year – up 39 per cent on the two organisations’ current expenditure on old people.

The TOPS review began in August 2007, with two of its key recommendations currently being implemented.

The most controversial of the pair is to increase the share of home care delivered by private providers from 30 per cent to 50 per cent or 5,000 hours a week.

“There is no consistency of service with the existing model,” admits the report.

At today’s SBC meeting, Mr Lowe seeks approval to put four other key elements of the review out to public consultation.

These include introducing a so-called telecare service to allow the frail elderly to remain in their own homes rather than ‘blocking’ beds in hospitals and care homes. When piloted last year, it was discovered the sophisticated system, which uses monitoring and measuring devices to remotely alert clinicians to changes in a patient’s condition, rendered 181 sleepovers by carers and 457 home checks unnecessary.

SOURCE: Borders Today – Selkirk,Scotland,UK

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Carer Guilty of Elderly Patients Assaults (UK)

by Tom Rowley

July 01, 2009

A SENIOR carer brushed an excrement-smeared nail brush across the mouth of a care home resident.

Linda Platt also pushed another dementia sufferer, Tameside Magistrates heard.

She left court in tears after being found guilty of two counts of common assault against two residents in their 80s at Heritage House nursing home in Stalybridge. She denied the charges.

The court was told the excrement incident happened in the early hours of 30 November after one of the elderly residents had soiled her bed.

Under cross-examination from defence solicitor Richard Birtwistle, Ms Platt, 59 – who had worked as a carer for 25 years and joined Heritage House in October 2007 – told Tameside Magistrates Court: “She was screaming in her bed. She did not like her hands being touched or let anyone near her nails. I tried to talk to her and reassure her and explain in detail that her nails were dirty and demonstrate what I was going to do.”

She denied that the nailbrush had made contact with the resident’s lips. She admitted she had called her a ‘dirty girl”’ but this was not said aggressively.

But prosecutor Kirstin Beswick said Platt’s workmate Janet Judge was stood beside her and had a clear view of the incident. Ms Platt said her colleague must have ‘misinterpreted’ her actions.

Another workmate, Hazel Tetlow, complained that one week later Platt ‘manhandled’ another resident in a corridor at the home. Platt, of Warrington Street, Stalybridge, had denied she had pushed the resident.

Chairwoman of the bench, Hilary Healey, told Platt that magistrates found the evidence against her credible and cogent.

“We believe that the brush did rub against the patient’s lips but you did not ram or shove it in.”

Mr Birtwistle said Platt was on medication for depression and anxiety. Magistrates extended unconditional bail until a probation report is ready at the court on 20 July.

Platt declined to comment after leaving the court in tears.

A spokeswoman for the home said: “The health and safety of our residents is paramount and our stringent whistle blowing policies and procedures brought these matters to light. We welcome the verdict of the court, which sends out the message that the abuse of vulnerable elderly people will not be tolerated.”

SOURCE: Tameside Advertiser, UK

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Helpline for Adults at Risk of Abuse (UK)

2nd July 2009

A HOTLINE to help adults at risk of abuse has been launched.

AskSal, a partnership between Thurrock, Southend and Basildon Safeguarding Adults Boards and national organisations Action on Elder Abuse and Voice UK, is a hotline for people to call if they are suffering abuse themselves or suspect an adult they know is at risk.

The helpline, which is the first of its kind in the UK, is the adult equivalent of Childline.

Gary Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of Action on Elder Abuse, said: “Many people do not report the abuse they suffer due to fear, shame and embarrassment. We hope that this unique partnership will cut through some of these barriers and enable people to access the support they desperately need.”

People calling the helpline will speak to skilled operators who can refer them to another agency if required, without the caller having to re-dial or re-tell their story.

The AskSal hotline number is 0808 80 10 345.

SOURCE: Thurrock Gazette – Thurrock,UK

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Carer Admits Pensioner Sex Attack (UK)

A male carer at an Edinburgh nursing home carried out a serious sex assault on an infirm 76-year-old woman as she held on to her walking frame.

The distressed victim later told another employee that Joseph Sinja had “done things her husband wouldn’t do”.

Sinja, 32, admitted carrying out the attack on 26 April this year, when he appeared at the High Court in the city.

He is due to be sentenced later but THE Kenyan national was warned he could be deported.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC told the court: “The victim describes feeling dirty and sick as a result of the incident and that the accused had done something to her that her husband had never done.

“Her age makes the offence particularly distressing and embarrassing to her and any mention of it causes extreme upset,” he said.

The prosecutor told the court that the woman, who has suffered strokes, irregular heart rhythm and reduced mobility, remains at the home run by Edinburgh City Council, but is now treated by female carers only.

Sinja, who was allowed into Britain on a student visa, was employed as an assistant at the home through Family Circle Care Ltd, which provided the agency staff.




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