Silent Betrayal: A Heartbreaking Tale of Financial Exploitation and a Stolen Home

March 5th, 2024

This article was written by Brad Hasenauer

Elder abuse, particularly financial exploitation, is a harrowing reality that often remains hidden behind closed doors. The below outlines the case of an 80-year-old man, who was abused by his caretaker, despite attempting to seek help multiple times. This tragic story underscores the urgent need for vigilance and action to protect vulnerable elderly individuals from exploitation and abuse.

Background

An 80-year-old man lived at home with assistance from a live-in friend/caretaker and the caretaker’s mother. One night in early 2022, the man placed a distress call to 911 seeking assistance and an ambulance. This was only the first of multiple distress calls placed by the victim to 911, and simultaneously by concerned neighbors to adult protective services (APS), because of what was happening.

The man’s home was the frequent site of drug-fueled parties thrown by the caretaker. Meanwhile, he had been relegated to the basement, alone and unable to leave.

As a result, the victim’s health deteriorated, leading to numerous hospitalizations and eventually, he was left unattended, covered in feces with maggots. Despite being discharged from the hospital, the victim never returned home, as the perpetrator refused to accept him, thereby gaining unrestricted access to the victim’s residence, vehicle, and finances.

Investigation

When APS arrived to investigate, it took a few surprise visits to find a time when the caretaker was not present. The man, clearly a victim of neglect, was immediately transported to the hospital for care. While in the hospital, the perpetrator caused extensive damage to the victim’s home, totaling the victim’s new car, and stripping the structure of its copper pipes for sale, resulting in the loss of all HVAC functions. During the course of their care for the victim, Adult Protective Services (APS) conducted an investigation and discovered evidence of ongoing financial exploitation, particularly during the victim’s hospitalizations. Over a span of three years, it was determined that the victim had endured a misappropriation of funds exceeding $200,000. This misuse included checks written to the caretaker/perpetrator and her acquaintances, manipulation of insurance claims, numerous ATM withdrawals, and debit card purchases. Notably, more than $20,000 was spent through digital/mobile payment services like Venmo, PayPal, Cash App, Facebook Pay, and Zelle.

Outcome

When the victim was healthy enough for discharge from the hospital, the perpetrator refused to accept him, and his home was no longer safe to occupy. The perpetrator was arrested and faces 16 felony charges, including grand larceny of the second degree (theft exceeding $50,000 but under $1 million). Unfortunately, the victim will never return home and will spend his remaining days in a long-term care facility. This tragic case demonstrates the devastating impact of elder financial exploitation, thriving in silence and robbing victims of their independence.

Awareness, vigilance, and proactive intervention are crucial when protecting vulnerable elders from abuse and exploitation. If you need further guidance or have any questions on this topic, we are here to help. Please do not hesitate to reach out to discuss your specific situation.

This material has been prepared for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Should you require any such advice, please contact us directly. The information contained herein does not create, and your review or use of the information does not constitute, an accountant-client relationship.

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