At our law firm, we focus on protecting senior citizens from abuse of all kinds through representation of vulnerable elders as well as family members or friends responsible for or concerned about their parents, grandparents or other elderly relatives or friends. Unfortunately, financial abuse of seniors is common, whether perpetrated by fiduciaries, caregivers, family members, strangers or professionals.
Trusted investment adviser swindled elderly clients through elaborate schemes
Last month, the Chicago Tribune published an account of a financial adviser who will go to prison for five years for his theft of over $2.3 million over four years from 24 elderly clients. The descriptions of the adviser’s behavior read like classic examples of “undue influence.” This is a legal concept applied when someone, through manipulative and often deceptive actions and communication, causes an elderly person to rely on and trust the person at such a significant level that it can be said that the elder loses control over his or her own decision-making powers.
In the Chicago case, the defendant groomed his victims by creating great trust so that they gave him access to their money in the mistaken belief that he would reinvest it in their best interests. Sometimes the relationship was decades long before he turned on them. His methods included using church-based relationships, falsely claiming affiliation with a respected company and acting like he cared about their well-being.
This story provides a clear lesson about financial abuse — that you can never be too careful about whom you (or your elderly loved one) does business with. Sadly, no matter how long you have known someone or how much you think you can trust them, background checking and following up to be sure they are doing what they claim to be can be crucial.
An elder law attorney can provide advice and information about potential practical and legal remedies for suspected or confirmed financial abuse.