Financial abuse of nursing home residents can be the result of negligence by management says Boca nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne.
Nursing home and assisted living facility residents are at risk of financial abuse by unscrupulous staff members. You may have thought the facility could be trusted with your family member but the reality is there may be staff members willing to steal and management unwilling to take the necessary steps to stop it. Boca nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne says nursing home residents are often targeted by employees who treat residents as ATM’s, not people.
The amount of money embezzled and stolen from the elderly and frail in this country is truly astounding. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 1 (CFPB) states.
- One study estimates elderly Americans had at least $2.9 billion stolen from them due to financial exploitation by a wide range of criminals in 2010, though the true cost may be much higher.
- A 2011 study stated that only a fraction of these cases are reported and investigated. Protective services agencies or programs for victims dealt with about one in 44 cases of financial exploitation.
The CFPB lists some warning signs of potential financial abuse, including,
- Missing possessions.
- Possessions replaced with cheaper ones.
- The resident lacks basics (such as underwear) but his or her personal needs account is depleted.
- Blank deposit slips or withdrawal forms are in plain sight for easy taking.
- A new acquaintance shows intense affection for the resident, isolating he or she from others.
- Checks or other financial documents signed or dated when the resident can no longer write.
- Suspicious signatures (there are many versions, some are shaky, others firm).
- The resident’s checkbook shows checks made out to “cash” frequently and/or check numbers are out of sequence.
One extreme example of financial abuse is that of Avigdor Ziskin, whose son, Zachary Ziskin accuses his father’s former nursing home, Regents Park at Aventura in Northeast Miami-Dade of negligently allowing staff to financially exploit his father over a five-year period, costing $2.5 million according to the Miami Herald.2. A lawsuit filed against the nursing home claims:
- Employees would write out checks to themselves, or to other people, using Victor’s checking accounts
- Would force Victor to sign the checks or would forge his signature
If the nursing home failed to screen its employees to at least try to prevent hiring someone who may financially exploit a resident and that resulted in the thefts, the nursing home may have acted negligently. Nursing homes are responsible for the well being of their residents, including taking steps to make sure they’re not the victims of theft by staff, residents or visitors.
The exploitation can be,
- Simple theft of money, an ATM or credit card or identity theft.
- A scheme involving getting into the good graces of a nursing home resident to convince him or her the employee should be handling their finances, resulting in bank accounts being emptied, investments sold and property being signed over.
- Staff members could also forge signatures or threaten a resident if checks or legal forms aren’t signed.
In these cases it’s often difficult, if not impossible, to get back the money stolen by the individual employees. But if it can be shown the nursing home acted negligently and didn’t prevent the thefts, or failed to become aware of them and stop them, a legal action might be able to recoup the losses. Victims of financial exploitation may also be victims of other types of abuse and neglect.
If you or a loved one have suffered financial exploitation by the staff of a nursing home in the South Florida area, contact Boca nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne at (561) 293-2600 or fill out this online contact form. You can discuss your case, how the law may apply and your best legal options to protect your rights and obtain compensation for the harm done.
- CFPB http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201406_cfpb_guide_protecting-residents-from-financial-exploitation.pdf
- Miami Herald http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/aventura/article86493302.html