ALERT: Legal representation for seniors who have been financially exploited

March 23, 2017

Grant funds have been found to continue the effort to combat the financial exploitation of seniors and vulnerable adults for at least one more year, says Jeffrey H. Myers, Assistant Attorney General, Maryland Department of Aging.

Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General Pursues Asset Recovery On Behalf of Senior Citizens and Vulnerable Adults

Good News about Senior Asset Recovery – Grant funds have been found to continue the effort to combat the financial exploitation of seniors and vulnerable adults for at least one more year, says Jeffrey H. Myers, Assistant Attorney General, Maryland Department of Aging.

Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General is pursuing asset recovery on behalf of financially exploited senior citizens (aged 68 or older) and other vulnerable adults (a person who lacks the physical or mental capacity to provide for his or her daily needs) by bringing a civil action for damages on their behalf against persons who financially exploited them by way of deception, intimidation or undue influence.

This initiative is the result of recently passed legislation, effective July 1, 2016, that was passed by the Maryland legislature and signed by the Governor during the 2016 legislative session. The new law is now codified as Commercial Law §13-204(15), which states that in addition to any other of its powers and duties, the Consumer Protection Division has the powers and duties to:

(15)(i) Bring a civil action for damages against a person who violates § 8-801 of the Criminal Law Article on behalf of a victim of the offense or, if the victim is deceased, the victim’s estate;
(ii) Recover damages under this item for property loss or damage;

  1. b) Conviction of offense of exploitation of vulnerable adults not prerequisite to action. — A conviction for an offense under § 8-801 of the Criminal Law Article is not a prerequisite for maintenance of an action under subsection (a) (15) of this section.

 

Criminal Law § 8-801 states that:

 

(b)(1) A person may not knowingly and willfully obtain by deception, intimidation, or undue influence the property of an individual that the person knows or reasonably should know is a vulnerable adult with intent to deprive the vulnerable adult of the vulnerable adult’s property.

(2) A person may not knowingly and willfully obtain by deception, intimidation, or undue influence the property of an individual that the person knows or reasonably should know is at least 68 years old, with intent to deprive the individual of the individual’s property.

 

The law is aimed at all abusers who financially exploit seniors or other vulnerable adults, including persons who are close to and trusted by the victim (such as family members, caregivers, financial advisors, accountants, attorneys) as well as complete strangers using phony magazine subscriptions, prize scams, donations to nonexistent charities and retrieval of personal financial information under false pretenses.

Studies have shown that senior citizens and other vulnerable adults are often reluctant to report abuse because they feel afraid, embarrassed, humiliated or ashamed. In addition, they frequently rely on the abuser for everyday functioning (such as caregivers and/or family members), and fear loss of their current life style or living arrangements if the abuse is reported; or they wish to protect the abuser, who may be a child or grandchild.

If you observe what you believe is financial exploitation of a senior citizen or other vulnerable adult, or seek more information concerning whether financial exploitation is occurring, please immediately contact:

Robert E. Frey

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
200 St. Paul Place, 16th floor
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
410-576-6575
rfrey@oag.state.md.us