Your Money

When the Elderly Become Financial Targets

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Norman Roussey

Mentally impaired senior Norman Roussey lost his home in San Mateo, Calif., and nearly $700,000 after his closest friend, Ronald Brock, took it from him. Prosecutors used a novel definition of theft in their case against Brock. John Green/San Mateo County Times hide caption

toggle caption John Green/San Mateo County Times

Jason Dearen with the San Mateo County Times contributed to this report.

Though California has some of the strictest elder abuse laws in the country, few cases of financial abuse are actually prosecuted. But a local district attorney is testing a novel legal strategy to put perpetrators of financial abuse in jail. And the case may have far-reaching impact. Judy Campbell of member station KQED reports.

Financial Abuse of Elders

The financial abuse of elders covers the illegal or improper use of an elder's funds, property or assets. It can include — but is not limited to: cashing an elderly person's checks without their permission; forging their signature; stealing or misusing their money or possessions; or abusing power of attorney.

Signs of abuse include:

  • sudden changes in banking activity, including large withdrawals from the bank or ATM
  • the addition of names on an elder's bank signature card
  • abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents
  • the unexplained disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
  • substandard care or unpaid bills despite adequate financial resources
  • signatures on checks, financial transactions or other property documents that don't resembled the elder's
  • the sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives claiming their rights to an elder's affairs and possessions
  • the sudden transfer of assets to a family member or someone outside the family
  • an elder's report of financial exploitation



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