WASHINGTON, D.C. – During Older Americans Month in May, Attorney General Karl A. Racine is encouraging District residents to learn how to keep loved ones’ safe from elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and to report these harmful practices to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) so older Americans can live their golden years with dignity.
OAG also announced the resolution of three cases concerning the financial exploitation of elders and vulnerable adults, reinforcing the importance of reporting these crimes. The first case involves a daughter, who was the caretaker of her now-deceased mother, spending over $11,000 of her mother’s Social Security income on herself. Another case is against a nephew who took more than $70,000 from his severely impaired uncle’s bank account to pay for luxuries such as hotel stays, shopping trips and meals at restaurants. The third case involves a Maryland woman misusing her grandmother’s credit card for personal shopping trips and forging a check for nearly $5,000 in her grandmother’s name.
“Older residents have faced a great deal of isolation during the pandemic and could be more likely to fall victim to scams. In fact, referrals to my office of financial exploitation of seniors have more than doubled over the last year,” said AG Racine. “Protecting seniors and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation begins by understanding the warning signs of these harmful practices. We know that for every one case of elder abuse that gets reported to authorities, there are often dozens more that never come to light. My office can only prosecute cases we hear about, so increasing awareness of elder abuse and reporting is key so we can hold abusers accountable, get relief for victims, and prevent further abuse.”
“Unfortunately, elder abuse is more common than most people realize. It’s important to know the warning signs, how and when to report it, and to know that AARP is here and on the side of the 50+ fighting with information and advocacy against all forms of elder abuse including financial,” said Louis Davis Jr., AARP DC State Director. “That’s why AARP DC recognizes the great work of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) as a one-stop shop for information on how older adults in the District can protect themselves from abuse and exploitation. AARP DC applauds the OAG for its diligence in investigating complaints and bringing civil and criminal cases against those who abuse or exploit District seniors.”
An elder or vulnerable adult may be reluctant to report abuse because of fear or retaliation, lack of physical or cognitive ability to report the abuse, or because they do not want to get the alleged abuser in trouble. Residents can help protect their loved ones and neighbors by learning how to detect, prevent, and report abuse. Click here to learn about potential warning signs and actions to take to help prevent elder abuse.
With over 87,000 adults over the age of 65 residing in the District, OAG is committed to helping and protecting area seniors and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In 2019, OAG established a standalone Elder Justice Section (EJS) to pursue civil cases, and provide informational resources to residents about their rights, common scams, and other relevant issues. EJS can obtain civil fines and temporary or permanent injunctions against bad actors through civil enforcement of the Criminal Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults and the Elderly Act. In 2018, OAG hired the District’s financial exploitation criminal prosecutor. OAG also does a great deal of community outreach, helping raise awareness of financial exploitation and all forms of elder abuse, to increase reporting.
OAG resolved three recent cases of elder abuse in the District and held perpetrators accountable for financial exploitation of elders and vulnerable adults:
Daughter Ordered To Pay $5,000 Penalty for Spending Mother’s Social Security Income
OAG filed a civil lawsuit alleging that a daughter, who was her mother’s guardian, used her mother’s Social Security income for her own benefit. The mother, who is now deceased, suffered from Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. The daughter served as the mother’s caretaker for two years, and controlled all of her funds. A report found that the daughter had mixed her funds with her mother’s funds, and had misused over $11,000 of her mother’s funds for her own benefit. As a result of OAG action, the court barred the daughter from acting as a fiduciary for an elder or vulnerable adult in the future and imposed a $5,000 civil penalty.
Nephew Steals More Than $70,000 from Uncle with a Severe Disability
OAG filed a civil lawsuit alleging that a nephew had taken money from his incapacitated uncle’s bank account, spending the money on hotel stays, meals at restaurants, and fraudulent payments to the nephew’s business. Following OAG’s involvement, the nephew was barred from any further contact with his uncle and prohibited from any further use of his uncle’s funds. The Probate Court appointed a guardian and conservator to protect the uncle’s interests going forward. In a settlement reached with OAG, the nephew agreed to repay $74,000 to his uncle and $10,000 in civil penalties.
Granddaughter Uses Grandmother’s Credit Card and Address, and Forges Check for Nearly $5,000
OAG filed a civil lawsuit against a Maryland woman for misusing her grandmother’s credit card at stores and forging her grandmother’s name on check for almost $5,000. The woman made unauthorized charges on her grandmother’s card more than 75 times and took more than $14,000 from her grandmother in total. The woman also used her grandmother’s DC address to obtain a DC driver’s license and to enroll her son in DC public school. The Court ordered the woman to pay restitution and civil penalties. Additionally, through this case, OAG affirmed that DC’s statute can be applied broadly to address exploitation of a District resident, even if the defendant is out of state.
If you are or know a District senior or vulnerable adult experiencing abuse, neglect, or exploitation, immediately get help by:
- Filing a report with Adult Protective Services (APS) by calling the 24-hour hotline at (202) 541-3950.
- Filing a police report with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) by calling the police at (202) 265-9100.
- Contacting OAG’s Elder Justice Section at (202) 727-3807 or email@example.com.
Know Your Rights: Read OAG’s Consumer Alert to protect yourself from scams, price gouging, discrimination, and to get information about consumer, worker, and tenant rights during the pandemic. You can access more information about OAG services during COVID-19 is at: www.oag.dc.gov/coronavirus.