I had the most interesting (and alarming) conversation with a friend of mine the other night at at grand re-opening party for a mutual friend’s store.     As conversations evolve, valuable knowledge was exchanged.      That night was no exception.   It all started out by my overhearing our mutual friend mention something about her being on the ABC program 20/20.  Here is what I learned –

THE STORY OF CONFUSION AND MANIPULATION Befriending a woman for control over her estate.
My friend is the granddaughter of long time, prominent figure in Dallas.    She began to tell me about the most chilling story of her grandmother who was befriended by a cast of characters who eventually manipulated her into giving them complete control over her life and belongings.     Over the course of a few years, two guys in the antique business  befriended her and started convincing her that her daughter and family did not want the best for her and that they would take care of her.     In 2005, after suffering a fall, they went to her hospital bed with an attorney and convinced her to sign a new power of attorney and will giving them complete control over everything.       They even had the gall to video the process for credibility.

Once in the driver’s seat, they began cutting off  access to her.    My friend said that was the last she was ever able to reach her grandmother.   Apparently, they were after this poor woman’s estate home worth about a million dollars.    My friend’s mother (the elderly woman’s daughter) lives out of state and was never able to convince her mother to sell the home and move in with her.    She was determined to stay in Dallas.     Without family members around, the woman was a target for such criminal activity.

To see the complete story written up by ABC news, click here.   Hold on to your seat, you are going to be appalled when you see the video of the 2 men and their attorney filming her signing the legal documents!

ANOTHER STORY 24 HOURS LATER$40,000 taken by a stranger.
I was relating this story to a group of people over dinner the next night only to find out that this happened to another  friend of mine’s mother who had Alzheimers disease.    She said some random woman befriended her and somehow made off with $40,000.    I asked if she had reported it and she said with her mother’s confusion, they couldn’t begin to track her down.       She worked with her mother’s CPA and they were certain of the unaccounted for funds, but felt there was no way to catch the person responsible.

AND YET ANOTHER STORY – Money being taken by the son.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to another friend of mine who let me know the family thinks one of the sons is taking money from their father’s account while the father is sick in the hospital.     The suspicions have been aroused by money missing from the accounts reported by one of the other siblings.

Three stories, all unrelated, but all with the same theme of elder exploitation – a cancer growing in our society.  I was knocked off my feet by the statistics of this crime as reported by the Adult Protective Services in Texas.  In Fiscal Year 2008, Adult Protective Services completed 68,683 investigations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation involving adults living at home. Of these, 48,380 were confirmed.

If you have a family member who lives out of state and doesn’t have a trusted family member in the same town looking out for them, consider the risk of this rising crime.      No matter how well you have planned for survivorship, there are forces at work to the contrary.    I will be adding links to my site under the LINK AND READ for further resources on this topic.   I felt compelled to get the word out on this problem.