Ohio lawmakers are looking at a bill that would require bank employees, accountants, real estate brokers and financial advisors to report suspected elder fraud if they see it. The measure would in effect make people who work in those financial fields mandatory reporters to adult protective services officials.
As many as five million older Americans are victims of elder financial fraud. Fraud against the elderly costs seniors millions and millions every year. Many times, the suspects are family members or caregivers. However, federal and local authorities have said very few cases are reported, so that means the number of victims and amount of money lost is much higher. Either family members don’t want to turn in another family member, or an elderly person suffers from dementia and doesn’t know what is happening to them.
Nationally, broker-dealer firms reported to authorities nearly 2,300 cases of suspected senior fraud or exploitation in 2015, according to a new North American Securities Administrators Association analysis of firms. That includes relatives with unauthorized access to seniors money.
Sometimes it’s strangers; people trying to pull an IRS scam, a Grandparent scam or a prescription drug scam. But often it’s closer to home.
Under the Ohio bill, adult protective services officials could stop the transfer of money before it happens. At the same time, the bankers, financial advisors, accountants and brokers would be protected from lawsuits, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Joel Potts, executive director of the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association, told the newspaper the bill was called the bill would detect fraud before it becomes a problem.
“Usually we find out way too late, and there’s just not a lot we can do,” he said. “This is the future we’ve all been talking about, when baby boomers start aging and retiring.”
The bill, if it’s approved, would provide some funding that would allow a judge in a case of elderly fraud to impose a fine of up to $50,000. The fine itself would be earmarked for adult protective services, which already is strapped.
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