WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today joined AARP DC State Director Louis Davis Jr. for a virtual conversation about the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) innovative approach to protecting the District’s 87,000 residents over 65 years old from elder exploitation, abuse, and neglect; holding predators of these crimes accountable; and educating residents about this type of abuse so they can live their golden years with dignity.
During AG Racine’s tenure, OAG prioritized standing up for older Americans as one in 10 elders experience some kind of abuse. Financial exploitation is the most common form, but it often goes hand-in-hand with other forms. For every one case of elder abuse that gets reported to authorities, there are another 23 that never come to light, reinforcing why it is so critical to educate residents about how to report abuse so OAG can then prosecute and get relief for victims.
Referrals to OAG about financial exploitation of older residents more than doubled since 2020 and have stayed consistently high. Older District residents had a particularly challenging time during the pandemic and likely faced a great deal of isolation, increasing the possibility that they could fall victim to exploitation. Since 2019, OAG has obtained more than $468,000 in judgments and settlements over violations of the District’s financial exploitation statute. In addition to obtaining restitution for victims and civil penalties, OAG often secures court orders barring bad actors from ever working with elders or vulnerable adults or from serving as a fiduciary of another person’s finances in the future.
“Every day, my colleagues and I come to work fighting for vulnerable residents, and we have prioritized protecting older residents who have been particularly susceptible to financial exploitation during the isolation of the pandemic,” said AG Racine. “Unfortunately, such abuses frequently occur at the hands of someone the victims know and trust. That’s why we help educate older residents about how to avoid exploitation, just as we did today with AARP DC. We also hold accountable those who take advantage of older residents—and we achieve results for older District residents so they can live out their golden years with dignity and security.”
In 2018, OAG hired the District’s financial exploitation criminal prosecutor who works in tandem with the United States Attorney’s Office to handle criminal prosecutions in cases of elder exploitation. In 2019, OAG established a standalone Elder Justice Section to handle the civil enforcement of the District’s financial exploitation statute that protects elders and vulnerable adults. The section files cases in civil court and established an elder justice hotline through which residents can easily report violations.
OAG regularly takes abusers to court to recover funds for victims, revoke financial abusers’ credentials, protect victims and other residents from exploitation, and secure civil penalties. The office is committed to fighting for District elders and vulnerable adults because everyone deserves to live out their golden years with dignity and security.
“AG Racine has transformed the Office of the Attorney General’s capacity to stand up for and protect older District residents,” said Louis Davis Jr., AARP DC State Director. “Because these crimes are often committed by people close to the victims, instances of abuse and exploitation frequently go unreported. But AG Racine has helped change that trajectory by holding perpetrators of these violations accountable and helping educate older residents and their loved ones about how to avoid being taken advantage of. Thank you to AG Racine and his office for their commitment to standing up for vulnerable populations, shining a light on these all-too prevalent abuses, and for their diligence in bringing bad actors to justice.”
In the last several years, the District has become a national leader in financial exploitation protection and has led trainings across the country to help other jurisdictions implement best practices and lessons learned at OAG. Click here for more information about OAG’s legal wins to protect District elders and vulnerable adults.
OAG also conducts community outreach to educate older District residents and their loved ones. The office helps raise awareness about financial exploitation and other forms of abuse, informs residents and their loved ones about what to watch out for to avoid getting taken advantage of, and shows how they can report potential exploitation, scams, or abuses to our office.
In addition to protecting older District residents, the Elder Justice Section also prioritizes standing up for all vulnerable adults who are victims of abuse or exploitation. Recently, AG Racine filed a complaint on behalf of a disabled veteran in their early twenties who was financially exploited by their mother. Under the guise of safeguarding the veteran’s money, the victim’s mother had the veteran’s disability benefits deposited into her own account. The victim’s mother then took tens of thousands of dollars and did not use the money to benefit the veteran. OAG alleges that the victim’s mother’s actions violated the District’s Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults and the Elderly Act by using fraud, deception and/or theft to obtain and misuse the disabled veteran’s funds for the victim’s mother’s benefit. With this suit, OAG is seeking to:
- Order the defendant to pay the veteran back the money that was stolen.
- Block the defendant from accessing the veteran’s financial accounts for personal benefit.
- Order the defendant to maintain detailed records of all transactions involving the veteran’s money, so long as the defendant still has access to the veteran’s money.
- Stop the defendant from being a fiduciary of a vulnerable adult in the future.
- Award the District civil penalties for each violation of the Financial Exploitation Act.
If you know a District senior or vulnerable adult experiencing financial exploitation, abuse, or neglect, immediately get help by:
- Filing a report with Adult Protective Services by calling their 24-hour hotline at (202) 541-3950.
- Filing a police report with the Metropolitan Police Department by calling the police at (202) 265-9100.
- Contacting OAG’s Elder Justice Section at (202) 727-3807 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Contacting the Office of the Inspector General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit at (202) 727-2540.
- AARP also has several resources, including:
- Legal Counsel for the Elderly (202) 434-2120 or www.aarp.org/LCE.
- AARP Fraud Helpline (877) 908-3360 or www.aarp.org.