Advice is often given about checking a senior relative’s bank statements frequently to identify potential theft. Large cash withdrawals, donations to strange charities, and similar red flags should be pursued.
But sometimes elder financial exploitation is so bold, that victims–or their relatives–may not realize that they were mistreated.
For example, it is easy to overlook a large payment if it seems to be made for a reputable reason. Doctor’s payments may be quite large, but when skimming bank records, that payment may not immediately jump out as fraudulent. This creates an opening for exploitation.
Unauthorized Dental Payments
A recent UT News story explained criminal charges filed against a dentist for exploiting many of his elderly clients. All told, hundreds of thousands of dollars may have been skimmed from senior clients by intentionally over-billing them for services.
The dentist ran a practice with many elderly clients–often in their 90s. Many of the patients had visited the dentist for years. This led to relationship of trust which was ripe for exploitation. According to reports, the dentist, along with his wife (who was the office manager), began artificially adding charges to the seniors’ dental bills. For example, one adult daughter explained how her father was repeatedly charged an extra $1,000 for every visit. Instead of paying $450 for services, his card was charged for $1,450. This sort of theft occurred for quite some time, affecting many different patients.
The couple plead guilty to several criminal charges, and they were sentenced to one year in jail. Sadly, as is common in these cases, many of the seniors will not receive all–or even part–of their money back. Authorities are trying to sell some of the coupe’s expensive property to partially reimburse the victims. But the re-payments will likely been too little, too late. Many of the patients have since died.
Stopping NY Elder Financial Exploitation
This sad case is a testament to the many varied ways that seniors can be exploited by the unscrupulous. Protecting a loved one’s assets from those willing to steal it should be of paramount importance for all New York families. Examples abound of seniors who have lost their home and seen retirement savings drained to nothing by scam artists or trusted friends and family who use their position to enrich themselves.
An elder law attorney can explain the various ways to minimize the risk of financial exploitation. Legal arrangements can be put into place which may catch this sort of misconduct early, before entire life savings can be drained.