The Office of Attorney General’s Legal Efforts Protecting Elders and Vulnerable Adults

With over 87,000 adults over the age of 65 in the District, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is committed to helping and protecting elders and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Unfortunately, elder abuse is all too common, with one in 10 elders experiencing some kind of abuse. Financial exploitation is the most common form, but it often goes hand-in-hand with other abuse.

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 abuse. In 2019, OAG established a standalone Elder Justice Section to file cases in civil court, established an elder justice hotline, and began providing community outreach and informational resources to residents about their rights, common scams, and red flags.

OAG regularly takes abusers to court in order to recover funds for victims, revoke financial abusers’ credentials, protect victims and other residents from exploitation, and secure civil penalties. We’re committed to fighting for District elders and vulnerable adults because everyone deserves to live out their golden years with dignity and security.

Since 2019, OAG has obtained more than $468,000 in judgments and settlements for violations of the District’s financial exploitation statute. In addition to restitution for victims and civil penalties, OAG has also obtained court orders barring bad actors from working with elders or vulnerable adults or from serving as a fiduciary of another person’s finances in the future. As a result, 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.

Listed below are the legal wins OAG has secured to protect District elders and vulnerable adults:

Civil Cases

  • Nursing Assistant at Long-Term Care Facility Held Accountable for Stealing from Nursing Home Residents: OAG filed a civil lawsuit against Fatoumata Bah and Mohamad A. Kamara for financially exploiting vulnerable nursing home residents at the facility where Bah worked. Bah stole at least six blank checks from two nursing home residents’ rooms and deposited the forged checks into their own bank accounts. In December 2021, OAG secured a judgment against Bah barring her from working with elders and vulnerable adults in the future, revoking any licenses she held, requiring her to pay $9,900 in restitution  to victims’ estates and civil penalties of $30,000. OAG also secured a judgment against Kamara, requiring him to pay $11,475 in restitution and civil penalties of $35,000.
  • 80-Year Old District Senior Relieved of $35,000 Auto Loan Obtained Through Deception:  A stepson financially exploited his stepfather by pressuring him to take out two car loans totaling $80,000 despite the fact that his stepfather did not have a driver’s license and had an annual income of only $18,000. Before filing suit, OAG was able to work with the finance company for one of the loans to void the sales contact and release him from any responsibility for the loan.
  • Maryland Resident Ordered to Pay More Than $78,000 After Taking Elder’s Social Security Income: OAG took civil action against a Maryland woman who abused her position of trust with a vulnerable District elder. The woman, who claimed to be a close friend of the elder, drove into the District on the 3rd of each month as retirement benefits were deposited into the elder’s account, to withdraw the bulk of the money for herself and leave the elder without sufficient funds for safe house and other daily needs. The court ordered the Maryland woman to pay restitution and civil penalties and barred her from further access to elder’s funds.
  • Nephew Ordered to Pay More Than $70,000 After Stealing from His 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. As a result of OAG’s lawsuit, the nephew is prohibited from any further use of his uncle’s funds and was ordered to repay $74,000 to his uncle and pay $10,000 in civil penalties.
  • Son Ordered to Pay $5,000 Penalty and Barred from Being a Fiduciary After Transferring Deed to Mother’s Home to Himself: OAG filed a civil lawsuit alleging that a son, who was his mother’s attorney-in-fact, abused his power of attorney and transferred the title of her home to himself without her knowledge or consent. The court returned title in the house to defendant’s mother in her private action and as part of a November 2021 judgment in OAG’s lawsuit, and the court barred the son from acting as a fiduciary for an elder or vulnerable adult in the future and imposed a $5,000 civil penalty.
  • Daughter Barred from Being a Fiduciary for Other Vulnerable Adults After Misusing her Mother’s Social Security Income: OAG filed a civil lawsuit alleging that a woman, who was her mother’s guardian, used her mother’s Social Security income for her own benefit. The daughter served as her mother’s caretaker for two years and controlled her money, misusing over $11,000 of her mother’s funds for her own benefit. OAG secured a judgment in 2021 barring the daughter from acting as a fiduciary for an elder or vulnerable adult in the future and imposing a $5,000 civil penalty.
  • Home Health Aide Forced to Repay Patient for Personal Purchases: OAG sued a home health aide who financially exploited a vulnerable District resident. The 61-year-old received a monthly allotment of funds from a settlement regarding a bystander shooting incident, and the home health aide unlawfully took the man’s settlement funds on seven occasions. OAG reached settlement with the aide to repay money to the victim and civil penalties.
  • Daughter Ordered to Pay Restitution After She Used Her Mother’s Social Security Income for Personal Benefit: OAG filed suit against a woman who stole from her incapacitated 87-year-old mother. Shortly after a court found her mother incapacitated and unable to handle her own financial affairs, the daughter began using her mother’s social security income for her personal benefit. The Court ordered more than $21,000 in restitution and penalties in OAG’s lawsuit.
  • Maryland Woman Who Exploited Her Father Must Repay Funds: A Maryland resident financially exploited her 88-year-old father, a District senior, by opening a credit card account in his name without his permission and making $4,405.70 in unauthorized charges on the card by making over 59 purchases. OAG filed suit and reached a settlement with the defendant to pay $4,500 in penalties after she reimbursed her father.
  • Granddaughter Held Accountable for Using Grandmother’s Credit Card and Address: 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. In 2021, the Court ordered the woman to pay more than $84,000 in restitution and civil penalties. 
  • Maryland Car Dealership Forced to Follow the Law: Ourisman Chevrolet of Marlow Heights, a car dealership that caters to District residents, allegedly violated the District’s financial exploitation and consumer protection laws when its unlicensed salesperson sold a car under unfavorable terms to an 86-year-old. OAG’s investigation revealed that the senior, who rarely drove, paid full sticker price for the car, was upsold on expensive and unnecessary add-ons, and received an extremely high interest rate on his car loan. As part of a settlement with OAG in 2021, the dealership agreed to fully comply with District and Maryland laws and abide by the terms of a separate settlement with the senior, which included full restitution.
  • Nursing Homes Agreed to Stop Deceptive Billing: After Washington Center for Aging Services and Stoddard Baptist Nursing Home sent deceptive collection letters to family members of nursing home residents, OAG stepped in to secure an agreement to stop the misleading billing, provide restitution to families, and pay $20,000 to the District for costs and civil penalties.

Criminal Cases

  • Two Former Bank Employees Ordered to Pay $83,800 for Defrauding 72-year-old Widow: Two SunTrust Bank employees pled guilty in 2021 to financially exploiting a 72-year-old military widow and District resident who has diminished capacity. One defendant moved $51,900 into a joint account that he created in his and the victim’s name. He later went on two trips to California and one trip to Miami and used the victim’s funds to stay at a beachfront hotel and rent a red Ford Mustang. He also made ATM withdrawals totaling $3,200 from the victim’s account while she was hospitalized. The other defendant withdrew $3,000 in cash from one of the victim’s accounts and wrote himself a check for $25,700 from a different account. The two defendants were sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $83,800 in restitution.
  • Former Aide Held Accountable for Stealing Debit Card from Disabled Elderly Man: A former home health aide pled guilty in December 2020 to financially exploiting a 61-year-old man with a profound intellectual disability by taking his debit card from his residence, where she worked, and using the card to make up to $235 in personal purchases. The defendant agreed to complete community service and pay restitution to the elderly victim. If she completes her service and meets these conditions within six months, the case will be dismissed.
  • Home Health Aide Must Return Restitution to Elder with Dementia: Moureen Masika stole over $3000 from an 88-year-old client with dementia using cash back from debit card purchases. She was found guilty of Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Vulnerable Adult and Second-Degree Theft in the first known trial involving that charge. In 2020, she was ordered to pay $1800 in restitution and barred from working as a home health aide for three years.

Resources

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 elderjustice@dc.gov.
Topics