Bookkeepers Stealing from the Elderly
Throughout the United States, elderly men and women are falling victim to fraud in their nursing homes. Office managers in charge of their resident's funds have been misusing their privileges to steal massive amounts of money.
In one case, a woman was caught making more than $100,000 in withdrawals from 83 resident's accounts at Vicksburg Convalescent Center. The family of one victim noticed that in a span of amount three months, more than ten large unauthorized cash withdrawals were made from their mother's account.
"We knew that there was something drastically wrong," said one family member. "It made me feel sick to my stomach," said another. The family was in disbelief that someone would be so low as to steal from a vulnerable elderly woman.
After an investigation, police learned the identity of the woman responsible for the fraudulent withdrawals. The woman had been falsely recording that the residents had needed the withdrawals for clothing, but in reality she was using the funds to go on shopping sprees at various department stores. "In one instance, Martin bought a pair of designer jeans and expensed them to an elderly resident with no legs," USA Today reported.
Different parts of the country had varying rates of stressful transitions. Transitions of care deemed possibly stressful included 11.6% of nursing home facility patients transferred in the last three days before passing away, 2.7% transported to a new nursing home facility after a hospitalization in the last 90 days before passing away, and 8.1% with many hospitalizations in the last 90 days before passing away.
This type of scam is not uncommon throughout the United States. One of the contributing factors to its frequency is the fact no criminal background checks are required on those hired to perform these jobs in nursing homes. Another factor is that these transactions are not usually audited, so unusual activity often goes undetected.
However, in cases where fraud is detected, there is good news for the victims. All nursing homes are obligated to have insurance that can cover this type of burglary. In the Vicksburg Convalescent Center situation, all residents received full compensation after the woman responsible was turned in to the authorities.
Since this type of fraud is becoming more and more widespread, officials urge families to continuously monitor the transactions made by their loved ones in nursing homes. This may be the most effective way of fighting this type of crime until reforms are made.
If you do notice unauthorized activity, the best thing to do is to contact an experienced elder law attorney for advice on how to handle the situation and seek restitution.