Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Regardless of whether you are one of the lucky ones who have not been a victim of ID theft, or are part of the unlucky group who have been victims of ID theft, you will want to attend this webinar. The Center for Victim Research is offering a webinar on January 17, 2019 at 2 p.m. on Identity Theft and Fraud: What Do We Know from Research and Practice? The webinar will cover
the current evidence on the challenges faced by victims of identity theft and fraud.
The experiences of victims of identity theft and fraud are under-researched, while the responses to their needs remain underdeveloped and have typically not yet been evaluated. CVR researchers Dr. Yasemin Irvin-Erickson and Ms. Alexandra Ricks will present key findings from the first comprehensive review of national research and practice evidence on this topic.
Topics covered will include:
- The prevalence of identity theft and fraud
- Harms and consequences experienced by victims
- Services available and where the field needs to grow
To register for the webinar, click here.
Friday, January 4, 2019
Recent news reports are focusing on the history of Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the purported age of 122 years and 164 days, a record that is still unsurpassed.
Some are convinced that she was not that old, and the possible motivation for the fraud is interesting. Did a daughter assume the identity of her mother, rather earlier in the history, to avoid paying inheritance taxes? One researcher notes the lack of any evidence of dementia as a clue.
For more, see "Researchers Claim World Record for Longest Life a Case of ID Fraud" from CBS News.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
The Center for Elders & Courts has released 8 background briefs on financial exploitation by conservators. The introduction explains that "the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime funded the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), in partnership with the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging (ABA Commission), the Virginia Tech Center for Gerontology (VTCfG) and the Minnesota Judicial Branch, to assess the scope of such exploitation and explore its impact on victims." "The ... project collected information on conservator exploitation, as well as the laws and practices in place to prevent, detect and act on such exploitation."
The purpose of the briefs is to increase public knowledge about the issues, aimed at an audience that includes attorneys, policymakers, judges, court staff, and advocated.
The 8 topics cover:
In addition there is a list of resources available here, Key Resources on Conservator Exploitation
Tuesday, January 1, 2019
The grandparent scam has been around for a while. According to the FTC, the bad guys have morphed the scam to make it harder to catch. New twist on popular 'grandparent scam': mail cash explains that "people 70 and older report mailing huge amounts of cash to people who pretended to be their grandchildren... [and] ... – fully 25% of people 70 and over who reported to the FTC how they paid money told [the FTC] they sent cash." (citations omitted). The FTC noted that these grandparent scams are also called friends & family impostor scams.
How do the bad guys convince victims to send cash? The blog post explains that "callers often give very specific instructions about how to send cash. Many people said they were told to divide the bills into envelopes and place them between the pages of a magazine. Then, according to reports, they were told to send them using various carriers, including UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service." The post does give some advice:
Don’t act right away, no matter how dramatic the story is.
Call that family member or friend, and make sure you use a phone number that you know is right. Or check it out with someone else in your circle, even if the caller told you to keep it a secret.
Be careful about what you post on social media. If your personal details are public, someone can use them to defraud you and people who care about you.
If you’ve mailed cash, report it right away to the Postal Service or whichever shipping company you used. Some people have been able to stop delivery by acting quickly and giving a tracking number. Also tell the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint.
BTW, the FTC website notes that the agency is closed because of the government shut down. Hopefully the bad guys aren't reading this post or checking out the FTC website.
Sunday, December 30, 2018
The Rapid Response Conservatorship Project from the Center for Elders & the Courts is using technology to create "[a] modernized proactive court process that safeguards the as sets of those placed under a conservatorship." The website offers some information about the project: "NCSC will pilot the two-year project in two courts to develop and refine implementation strategies that can be adopted nationwide. The project will result in highly efficient court processes and has the potential to end the exploitation of conservatorship assets." The website describes 3 phases: planning, implementing and replicating. The project looks at 5 steps: appointing a conservator, using technology and machine learning to establish a "financial profile" which in turn notifies courts of unusual activities which will then allow courts to take action with the result of "[i]ntegrating monitoring, alerts, and timely resolution into the court management process [which] will improve the administration of justice—and protect the assets of the vulnerable."
Cate Boyko is the project director
Friday, December 28, 2018
There have been many reports regarding the Social Security scam and according to the FTC the scam is growing like kudzu (i.e. rapidly). According to the FTC, the "scam is now growing exponentially. To compare: in 2017, we heard from 3,200 people about SSA imposter scams, and those people reported losing nearly $210,000. So far THIS year: more than 35,000 people have reported the scam, and they tell us they’ve lost $10 million."
This week the FTC released a recording of the scam, This is what a Social Security scam sounds like so you will know how to better spot it. The recording is 39 seconds-well worth your time for a quick listen. The FTC offers this advice
Here's what to know:
Your Social Security number is not about to be suspended. You don’t have to verify your number to anyone who calls out of the blue. And your bank accounts are not about to be seized.
SSA will never call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. Every time.
The real SSA number is 1-800-772-1213, but scammers are putting that number in the caller ID. If you’re worried about what the caller says, hang up and call 1-800-772-1213 to speak to the real SSA. Even if the wait time is long, confirm with the real SSA before responding to one of these calls.
Never give any part of your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you. Or your bank account or credit card number.
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Mark your calendars now for a free webinar from the National Center on Law & Elder Rights on Signs of Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation. The webcast is scheduled for 2 p.m. on January 16, 2019. Here is a description of the webinar
Lawyers and others who work with older adults should be aware of potential signs of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. This awareness requires an understanding of abuse signs, as well as the questions to ask when abuse is suspected. As the first part in the forthcoming National Center on Law and Elder Rights (NCLER) Elder Justice Toolkit, this webinar will help lawyers tune in to potential warning … Moresignals and train the audience on key questions to ask when elder abuse is suspected. The fast paced one-hour program will include checklists of physical, behavioral, and emotional signs of abuse, sexual abuse, self-neglect, caregiver neglect, and exploitation.
To register, click here.
December 18, 2018 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Health Care/Long Term Care, Programs/CLEs, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, December 10, 2018
Mark your calendars for a free webinar on December 13, 2018 from noon-1 from DOJ's Elder Justice Initiative on Resources for Financial Institutions to Prevent & Protect Against Elder Financial Exploitation.
Here is a synopsis from the website:
Bankers, brokers, and investment advisors are often some of the first trusted parties to see signs of financial exploitation. This presentation will support the work already done by financial services members and provide additional information about how to access training programs and support for tellers and other financial professionals who want to report financial exploitation and work collaboratively with others in their communities to prevent it.
Please join us for a webinar on December 13, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. e.t., on Resources for Financial Institutions To Prevent and Protect Against Elder Financial Exploitation with host Judith Kozlowski, J.D., consultant and subject matter expert with DOJ's Elder Justice Initiative, and presenter Lisa Bleier, J.D., Managing Director and Associate General Counsel at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), and leads its Senior Investor Protection efforts. Her primary responsibilities at SIFMA include working with Members of Congress and government regulators on retirement, IRA, and executive compensation matters. Before moving to SIFMA, Ms. Bleier was Vice President and Senior Counsel at the American Bankers Association and worked on Capitol Hill. Also presenting is Billie McNeeley, Financial Exploitation Specialist, Aging & People with Disabilities at the Oregon Department of Human Services, she is a leader in developing and training bank tellers to recognize financial exploitation and move to action. Formerly with the Oregon Bankers Association, she is a national advocate for the role that small banks and credit unions can play in addressing elder financial exploitation.
They will discuss how financial professionals in small and medium-sized firms can use available tools and training to recognize and fight elder financial exploitation. The discussion includes what tellers, back-office professionals, and those in the c-suite can do to address this important issue.
To register for the webinar, click here.
December 10, 2018 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Programs/CLEs, State Statutes/Regulations, Webinars | Permalink
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Stan Lee has died at age 95. Many will recognize him as the creator of many famous superheroes in the Marvel comic universe. Movies based on his superheroes have been blockbusters and his cameos were one of the highlights of the films. More recently though, he has been in the news because of an issue familiar to elder law attorneys. As the New York Times reported in his obituary,
In Mr. Lee’s final years, after the death of his wife, the circumstances of his business affairs and contentious financial relationship with his surviving daughter attracted attention in the news media. In 2018, Mr. Lee was embroiled in disputes with POW!, and The Daily Beast and The Hollywood Reporter ran accounts of fierce infighting among Mr. Lee’s daughter, household staff and business advisers. The Hollywood Reporter claimed “elder abuse.”
In February 2018, Mr. Lee signed a notarized document declaring that three men — a lawyer, a caretaker of Mr. Lee’s and a dealer in memorabilia — had “insinuated themselves into relationships with J. C. for an ulterior motive and purpose,” to “gain control over my assets, property and money.” He later withdrew his claim, but longtime aides of his — an assistant, an accountant and a housekeeper — were either dismissed or greatly limited in their contact with him.
In a profile in The New York Times in April, a cheerful Mr. Lee said, “I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” adding that “my daughter has been a great help to me” and that “life is pretty good” — although he admitted in that same interview, “I’ve been very careless with money.”
Thursday, November 8, 2018
The National Center is pleased to present the National Center for Victims of Crime 2019 National Training Institute. As in past years, this training will emphasize a multidisciplinary approach to sharing promising practices, current research, and effective programs and policies that are victim-centered, practice-based, and research-informed. Our National Training is a forum for law enforcement, victim service professionals, allied practitioners, policymakers, and researchers to share current developments and build new collaborations. Conference sessions will highlight practical information to better support services for the wide range of persons victimized by crimes of all types.
Call for Workshop Proposals
The National Center for Victims of Crime is seeking presenters for its National Training Institute, to be held September 4-6, 2019, in Denver, Colorado. Workshops will address a wide range of topics organized into separate conference tracks. Workshops are scheduled for 90 minutes (1.5 hours) in length, unless otherwise specified in the proposal. Accepted presenters will be assigned day and presentation time by the Institute planning committee.
Click here to submit a proposal.
- Examples of Conservator Exploitation: An Overview
- Conservator Exploitation in Minnesota: An Analysis of Judicial Response
- Detecting Exploitation by Conservators – Court Monitoring
- Detecting Exploitation by Conservators – Systemic Approach
- Court Actions Upon Detection of Exploitation
- Innovative Programs that Address Financial Exploitation by Conservators
- Data Quality Undermines Accountability in Conservatorship Cases
- Supporting Victims of Conservator Exploitation
as well as key resources for these cases.
The introduction explains the impetus for the work, the 8 briefs, definitions of common terms and the reason for the project
NCSC in 2016 estimated, based on projections, that there are approximately 1.3 million active adult guardianship or conservatorship cases in the United States and at least $50 billion in assets under conservatorships (see Data Quality Brief). Also in 2016, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that “the extent of elder abuse by guardians nationally is unknown due to limited data . . .” While many conservators are trustworthy, dedicated, and provide critically needed services, multiple media accounts over many years profile instances in which conservators have breached their fiduciary duty – taking advantage of those they were charged with protecting. (citations omitted)
Monday, November 5, 2018
Paul Greenwood, a rock star prosecutor known widely for his successes in elder abuse prosecution recently retired (huge loss for all of us). He authored The Changing Landscape of Elder Abuse Prosecutions: A 22-Year Journey. He writes about the changes
Today prosecutors and law enforcement have an abundance of materials at their disposal to assist in the investigation and prosecution of criminal elder abuse cases. One such outstanding example is the newly released Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement [EAGLE] operated by the National Center on Elder Abuse. Another great tool is the Elder Justice Initiative created by the Department of Justice.
The quandary that we face is not where to find the information but rather whether to make elder abuse prosecution a priority.
It is no exaggeration to say that elder justice is fast becoming a critical national issue. Demographics, availability of technology to seniors, the opioid epidemic, and the expanding number of dementia patients are just a few factors that have combined to create the perfect climate for predators. Elder abuse has been called the “crime of the 21st century”.
He writes about the upcoming challenges and steps prosecutors are taking to face them. Those preparations include trainings for prosecutors, in-state collaborations between prosecutors and state attorney generals, and multi-disciplinary teams. Paul writes that two areas present hurdles:
- "Financial elder abuse is exploding and many of the perpetrators are able to hide in anonymity thanks to the proliferation of such internet ruses as romance, IRS, sweepstakes and grandma scams. Moreover, many exploiters are using nontraditional methods to steal from their elderly victim and then claiming that the transaction represents either a gift or a loan. We are having to find new ways to argue lack of consent aggressively and effectively and also educate ourselves as to the ways in which undue influence impacts this crime."
- "Secondly, we are still figuring out how to uncover, investigate and prosecute crimes – particularly sexual abuse – that occur in long term care facilities. Prosecutors need to reach out to the various state agencies that oversee the issuance and revocation of facility licenses along with the Long Term Care Ombudsman programs."
Paul Greenwood has done amazing things in advancing the prosecution of elder abuse cases. We all should thank him and wish him well as he moves to his retirement. Thank you Paul!
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
In a perfect world, everyone will be able to handle all of their own affairs, right until the day they die. In a perfect world, even if that was not possible (or even desirable), there is always some trustworthy family member or friend to step in to help.
Alas, it isn't a perfect world. For a number of years, when I was supervising an Elder Law Clinic, our clients sometimes needed the assistance of a professional agent or guardian, someone who was experienced in providing fiduciary management services for people of modest means, and who had a track record and references to demonstrate competence. We also wanted to see their certificate of insurance or bonding.
Recently I was looking for a guest speaker for a Nonprofit Organization Law class and I reached out to a company in my address book. I learned it had ceased doing business. In contrast to the dramatic stories from locations such as New Mexico, where nonprofit entities failed to carryout their fiduciary duties, Neighborhood Services, based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania found it necessary to close their doors for 300 vulnerable clients because of gaps in charitable funding.
Some clients had behavioral health needs. Approximately 150 of the clients were incapacitated people living in nursing and personal care homes in a multiple county region. New representatives were needed for all of them. A 2017 news story explained:
Founded in 1964, nonprofit Neighborhood Services fell over $400,000 in debt after losing most of its United Way funding a couple of years ago and failing to secure key federal grants, said Stanley, who joined the agency in October 2015 as its woes were mounting.
The agency, which never prioritized fund-raising, has lost several staff members in recent months and currently employs five.
Neighborhood Services’ most visible role has been serving as the representative payee for more than 150 clients with intellectual disabilities, mental illness or addiction issues. The agency received the clients’ monthly disability checks and prioritized the payment of their rent and other basic needs.
"I'll miss all the staff," said Nathan Wilson, 57, who relied on Neighborhood Services to manage his finances. "Whenever I need extra, they always get it for me."
This history is a reminder that more than good intentions are needed to run a successful nonprofit organization.
October 23, 2018 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, October 21, 2018
The Federal Trade Commission has released a new report, Protecting Older Consumers: 2017-2018: A Report to Congress of the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC report, available here, runs 41 pages and is divided into sections addressing effective strategies, enforcement activities, and outreach and education. For those of you unfamiliar with the FTC's work on behalf of consumers who are older, the report explains
As the nation’s primary consumer protection agency, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) has a broad mandate to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. It does this by, among other things, filing law enforcement actions to stop unlawful practices and educating the public about consumer protection issues. Through strategic initiatives, research, and collaboration with federal, state, international, and private sector partners, the FTC targets its efforts to achieve the maximum benefits for consumers, including older adults.
The Commission’s anti-fraud program tracks down and stops some of the most pernicious frauds that prey on U.S. consumers, such as imposter scams, deceptive credit schemes, prize promotion fraud, business opportunity scams, and more. In addition, the advertising substantiation program protects consumers from the harm caused by unsubstantiated product claims, such as fake opioid addiction treatments and cancer cure products. The agency also works to protect consumer privacy and data security, combat illegal telemarketing and email spam, and enforce a variety of consumer protection rules and other statutes covering topics such as funeral industry practices, used car sales, and consumer
product warranty protections, to name only a few. These programs provide tremendous benefits to older and younger consumers. (citations omitted).
Be sure to check out Appendix A-the table of cases from the FTC for year 2018.
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Last month, the Providence Journal published a series of articles about the year-long project by Brown University students on elder abuse in Rhode Island. The first, Elder abuse in R.I.: Reported attacks on the rise, yet most perpetrators avoid prison noting "that 87 percent of those charged with elder-abuse offenses in R.I. between 2000 and 2017 did not go to prison for those crimes, leaving their elderly victims vulnerable to repeated attacks." There are 9 parts to the series, published in the Providence Journal, all of which can be accessed from here. Parts 6 and 7 deal with guardians while Part 8 deals with scammers and 9 with friends. Part 2 deals with barriers to prosecution and part 5, police training.
This is a great series. Read it!
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
EAGLE is the new guide on elder abuse for law enforcement is a joint effort from the U.S. Department of Justice along with USC's Keck School of Medicine (host of the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)) as well as the USC Keck School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine & Geriatrics, the USC-Irvine Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect & USC-Davis School of Gerontology. EAGLE includes a first responder checklists, a checklist for gathering evidence, information about state statutes, a section on interviewing victims and photography tips, to highlight a few. This is a significant tool and you need to take a look at it. Make sure your local law enforcement folks know about this website.
Monday, October 15, 2018
Registration is now open for the Rural and Tribal Elder Justice Summit scheduled for November 14-15, 2018 in Des Moines, Iowa. Here is info about the program
On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2018, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Agriculture announced a joint Statement of Action to promote elder justice in rural and tribal communities. Although more than 20 percent of older adults live in rural America, rural and tribal communities face unique challenges in their efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
To advance this priority, the Department of Justice is hosting a Rural and Tribal Elder Justice Summit on November 14–15, in Des Moines, Iowa. This Summit will bring together a diverse group of experts and elder justice professionals to: (1) identify the challenges rural and tribal communities face in responding to elder abuse; (2) identify promising practices, resources, and tools available to rural and tribal communities; and (3) explore what more can be done to break down silos and foster greater collaboration at the tribal, local, state, and federal levels.
Please join us for this important event and help us to advance elder justice in rural and tribal communities.
For more information about the summit and rural elder justice topics, please visit the Elder Justice Initiative website
To register for the summit, click here.
October 15, 2018 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
The USC Center for Elder Mistreatment has released an update on federal and state elder abuse legislation passed in 2018. According to the website, "[t]he elder justice legislation found in this document was elicited and finalized from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) Listserv and independent websites in August 2018. The compilation is intended to reflect highlights across the nation and does not include all legislation related to elder justice. However, updates will be sent quarterly and states are encouraged to send updates on significant legislative action to Ageless Alliance. This document reflects activity in 21 states and highlights at the federal level. " The elder justice policy highlights cover February through August of 2018 and can be accessed here. The document features federal legislation and well as state legislation listed alphabetically.
Monday, October 1, 2018
The New Yorker has a podcast that offers another take on a topic that we often explore on this Blog: Why do older persons sometimes "fall" for an obvious con job, such as as offshore lotteries or stranded grandchild scams? The wilder the facts, the greater the "obvious" risk, but that doesn't deter some "investors." One daughter is determined to get to the bottom of her deceased father's tragic loss. of his entire life savings. I recently heard the first of a two-part podcast called "The Long-Distance Con" (it aired for the first time 3 days ago) and found it pretty darn interesting. Here's a summary of the first part:
On the day that Maggie Robinson Katz learned that her father had only a few days to live, she also found out that her wealthy family couldn’t pay his hospital bills: his fortune had disappeared. Katz didn’t learn how until several years later, when she began listening to a box of cassette tapes given to her by her stepmother.
The tapes record her father, Terry Robinson, speaking on the phone with a man named Jim Stuckey, a West Virginian based in Manila, about a kind of business proposition. Hidden in jungles and caves in the Philippines, Stuckey said, were huge caches of gold bullion, uncut U.S. currency, and Treasury bonds; if Robinson put up the money to pay the right people, Stuckey could get the treasures out.
It seemed absurd to people around Robinson, and the Treasury Department warns of scams that sound just like this.
But Robinson, a successful retired executive, fell for it hook, line, and sinker. His daughter Maggie struggles to understand why and how, talking with TheNew Yorker’s Maria Konnikova and others.
This is part one of a two-part series. Here is the link to the first, 27 minute podcast.
In Supreme Court Tomorrow, Oct 2, Oral Argument on Whether 8th Amendment Bars Execution of Individual With Advanced Dementia & No Memory of Crime
As type this post, in the background I can hear the televised voices of legislators on Capitol Hill arguing over the significance of loss of memory and the passage of time.
This post is also about loss of memory. On Tuesday, October 2, 2018, during the Supreme Court's first day of oral arguments in the new term, the justices will hear the case of Madison v. Alabama. The capitol crime in question occurred in 1985, and the proceedings following imposition of the death penalty have been technical and portracted, involving detailed forensic evaluations. Here is a summary from the ABA Journal:
“It is undisputed that Mr. Madison suffers from vascular dementia as a result of multiple serious strokes in the last two years and no longer has a memory of the commission of the crime for which he is to be executed,” said the stay application filed by his lawyers with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama.
“His mind and body are failing,” the filing continued. “He suffers from encephalomalacia [dead brain tissue], small vessel ischemia, speaks in a dysarthric or slurred manner, is legally blind, can no longer walk independently, and has urinary incontinence as a consequence of damage to his brain.”
On Feb. 26, over the objections of Alabama state officials, the high court granted full review of Madison’s case, based on the questions of whether the Eighth Amendment and relevant court precedents permit a state to execute someone who whose mental disability leaves him without memory of his commission of the capital offense, and whether evolving standards of decency bar the execution of a prisoner whose competency has been compromised by vascular dementia and multiple strokes.
The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have jointly filed an amicus brief addressing the use of brain imaging to diagnose severe vascular injuries and describing reliable methods used to detect any potential for a feigned impairment in this case. They contend the assessment methods used in this instance leave "no doubt that Mr. Madison lacks a rational understanding," such that his execution would violate the Eighth Amendment.
For purposes of the legal issues identified by the Court, the State of Alabama largely concedes the mental disability and the absence of memory of the commision of the capital offense, but contends that valid "penological interests in punishing a murder exist."