Film Shows Plight of Elderly Victims of Embezzlement
Deborah Louise Robinson’s documentary, ‘Last Will and Embezzlement,’ tells the stories of several seniors who were robbed of their life savings by criminals. The criminals insinuate themselves into the lives of their elderly victims, who are often made especially vulnerable because they are isolated or are suffering from the early symptoms of dementia, and slowly take over their lives and finances. This is a form of elder abuse, just as surely as if a vulnerable person were physically or verbally abused.
As the New York Times reported when it reviewed the film, these cases are rarely prosecuted. The problem is it can be hard to find the line between bad judgment and diminished capacity. If the criminal forged your family member’s signature, a strong case can be made to charge the forger with a crime. However, what if your elderly mother simply decided to give money to someone who treated her kindly, or helped her when you weren’t available to help her yourself?
If you have an elderly or vulnerable family member, it is important that you keep an eye on his or her finances, while at the same time realizing that the elderly have the right to make their own decisions, even bad ones, as long as they are competent. On the other hand, sometimes a criminal prosecution for embezzlement is appropriate, even if the victim does not realize that a crime has occurred.
If you feel that your family member is unable to protect himself, or if you discover that his finances are in ruin and it appears that he was already victimized, you need to consult with Tacopina, Seigel & DeOreo Unlike many firms, we can help you with both the criminal and civil aspects of this type of case.