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Robbing the elderly: victims of theft and fraud

A recent ITV Tonight documentary investigated the rise in the number of older and vulnerable people falling victim to theft and fraud crimes. Sofia Tayton, a specialist in Care and Capacity law, reports.

In ‘Fraud: Robbing from the Elderly’, presenter Helen Skelton reported on this worrying trend.

The documentary also explored the use of so-called ‘nanny-cams’ – hidden cameras used to catch thieves who target the elderly.

Amongst the statistics highlighted in the documentary was the number of elderly and vulnerable individuals swindled out of often very significant amounts of money.

Estimates

The charity Action on Elder Abuse estimates that there are 120,000 fraud and personal theft cases affecting over 65’s in England every year.

Meanwhile, social service safeguarding reports show 22,565 cases in 2017/18 of financial/material abuse, affecting mostly elderly people with dementia.

Surprisingly, the perpetrators in many elderly theft cases are not strangers. They are friends, relatives, or carers of the victim.

Some of them are opportunists. They spot a vulnerable elderly individual, and see them as easy prey to con them out of their life savings.

The documentary identified secret filming as one way to catch the perpetrators red handed. Three quarters (75 percent) of the people taking part in a One Poll survey conducted for the programme, said they would secretly film a carer if they had suspicions about them.

This survey also found that 85 percent of those questioned feel there should be a specific law to protect the elderly, like there is for children.

In the absence of this sort of protective legislation, there are documents that will help protect people if they become infirm, or lose mental capacity, and need someone to assist them with their finances.

Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs) and Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)

It can be a complicated process, with three separate areas to deal with: EPAs, Personal Welfare LPAs and Property and Affairs LPAs. It is vital that professional advice about these documents is sought before they are prepared or registered. There are procedural requirements to follow, and everyone involved must understand their duties and responsibilities.

The best way to ensure the documents are suitable for an elderly or vulnerable relative is to speak to an experienced legal adviser. Look for someone who is a member of a professional body like Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE).

To find out more about Lodders Care and Capacity law services, contact Sofia Tayton or Jessica Beddows, partners in Lodders Private Client department.

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Get in touch

For more information, contact Sofia Tayton on 01789 206151, or via email.