Man allegedly defrauds elderly relative in “gut wrenching” case of elder abuse

Jun 15, 2022
The devastating elder abuse case comes as the world recognises World Elder Abuse Day on Wednesday, June 15.. Source: Getty

A Melbourne man has been charged for allegedly defrauding an 83 year old female relative of over $1 million dollars in a troubling case of elder abuse.

In January 2021, Detectives from the Financial and Cyber Crime Group and Crime and Intelligence Command commenced an investigation after a complaint was received from the Public trustee of the 83 year old.

As a result of the investigation, detectives were able to conclude that over a four-year period (2014-2018), the 64 year-old man in question was allegedly responsible for transferring more than $1.145 million dollars from the elderly woman’s bank accounts into his own and that the man allegedly made a number of unauthorised purchases to the total of over $150,000 using the elderly woman’s debit card.

Queensland Police allege that due to illness, the woman did not have the capacity to provide him with permission to access these funds and that allegedly the man never held the authority of enduring power of attorney to lawfully access her finances.

Detective Superintendent of the Financial and Cyber Crime Group, Lance Vercoe, admitted he was troubled by cases of elder abuse.

“In all of my 42 years of policing, I find these types of offences the most gut wrenching and disturbing, that someone could treat their loved ones this way,” Vercoe said.

“I would recommend that the elderly and vulnerable never feel ashamed and to take control if this behaviour occurs and always reach out to a support person or friend.”

According to Elder Abuse Action Australia (EAAA), 15% of older Australians reported being abused in the past 12 months prior to being surveyed between February and May 2020. This equates to 600,000 people who are at risk and/or experiencing a form of elder abuse.

The EAAA highlighted that “knowing if an older person is experiencing abuse starts by knowing what to look for. People need to look for both common behaviours (or actions shown by the older person and/or their perpetrator) and common warning signs”.

“Other signs are changes in a person’s behaviour. If they become unusually withdrawn, depressed or anxious. Don’t engage in their usual activities,” the EAAA said.

When it comes to financial abuse, some of the behaviours to be on the lookout for include threats or coercion over assets or wills, denying someone access to their own money and/or taking control of someone’s finances against their wishes, unauthorised use of banking and financial documents, adding a signatory to a bank account, and the theft of personal items like jewellery, credit cards, cash, food, and other possessions.

Findings from the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study (released December 2021) indicate that experiencing elder abuse resulted in poorer health and wellbeing outcomes. The study also found that participants who experienced abuse were more than three times as likely to experience serious mental health illnesses, which included anxiety, depression and high levels of distress.

Co-Chair EAAA, Jenny Blakey said “no-one at any age should be subject to abuse”.

“Ageism can belittle older people and result in a lack of action to tackle elder abuse,” she said.

Fellow Co-Chair, Russell Westacott highlighted that “given elder abuse in Australia impacts 600,000 older people each year, the whole of Australian society needs to do more now to eliminate this appalling abuse from our communities.”

The elder abuse case comes as the world recognises World Elder Abuse Day on Wednesday, June 15.

If you are worried about financial or emotional abuse, you can make contact with dedicated resources in your state by calling 1800 ELDERHelp (1800 353 374) is a free call phone number that automatically redirects callers seeking free information and confidential advice on elder abuse with the phone service in their state or territory.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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