The Consumer Financial Protection Board issued a 62-page report and an 8-page advisory in 2016 calling on banks and credit unions to do their part to prevent, recognize, report and respond to elder financial abuse. Many large financial institutions have special dedicated teams to combat elder fraud already, and smaller ones have creative approaches like a fraud busters program that recognizes tellers who catch a thief, but the approaches really run the gamut in terms of how robust they are, says Naomi Karp, senior policy analyst with CFPB’s Office for Older Americans.
As we found out the depth of the Financial Abuse perpetrated by my brother Samuel Hornedo we then had a decision to make. Would we tell Sam’s wife Christina of the fraud and money he had been taking? When would we bring it up as she was coming over to my mothers apartment with my nieces. Did she know about it? At the time we thought that based on the history of lies and deception by Sam that she was probably an innocent in this whole situation. Miguel and I decided to wait and to just have a nice visit and not bring anything up just yet.
The things we found out on the visit; in the prior year My brother Samuel Hornedo had managed to get approximately $13,000 in checks and cash from my mother. Between overdraft Loans and Fees it totaled over $16,000. We also found that Samuel had used her credit cards and perpetrated Credit Card Fraud and Identity theft. We could not find her missing money, her will and trust was missing as well as any records of various checking, savings and investment accounts. She was definitely was suffering some Cognitive Impairment. She could not manage her bills anymore and could not be trusted with her checkbook.
What we did to stem the Financial Issues caused by my brother and her cognitive issues was the following:
- We opened a new Joint Checking Account so we could keep an eye on her money.
- We were able to get on her Credit Card accounts and requested the complete history of transactions from them.
- We took away her Checks and set up online Auto-pay for all of her bills.
- We took over paying her rent from the new account.
- The bank was aware of the financial abuse and promised to contact us anytime our mother came into the bank. They were aware and knew who was perpetrating the abuse.
- We contacted the credit card companies and had the account #’s changed.
- We contacted Adult Protective Services and opened up a case file.
- We contacted the San Diego District Attorney who specialized in Elder Abuse.
- We made all of my mothers friends aware of what the situation was as well as all of our extended family.
- We started looking into setting up a conservatorship or getting a Durable Power of Attorney.
- With the help of free legal council we had my mother write a new will.
In the next blog post my brother Miguel will give his perspective on this visit and what the plans would be going forward. We created this blog to bring light to this situation and to help others identify and prevent this from happening to them. Please Repost!