With the high number of elderly and disabled persons in Florida, exploitation of the elderly and disabled happens all too frequently. Ex-ploitation of the elderly and disabled usually occurs by someone who is close to the elderly or disabled person. Most often, the perpetrator is a close friend, family member, neighbor, or caregiver. The elderly or disabled person often does not realize it until it is too late.
According to Consumer Affairs Elder Financial Abuse Statistics, 3.5 Million adults are financially exploited each year. Other sources report that 1 in 10 seniors will experience elder abuse in their lifetime, but only about 7 percent of elder abuse gets reported to authorities. Sadly, two-thirds of elder abuse cases involve family members.
In response to the high incidences of financial exploitation of the elderly, the Florida legislature wisely passed Section 825.103 Florida Statues which created criminal penalties for those who exploit the elderly and disabled. Among other things, the exploitation of an elderly or disabled person is defined in the statue as “knowingly obtaining or using, or endeavoring to obtain or use, an elderly person’s or disabled adult’s funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the elderly person or disabled adult of the use, benefit, or possession of the funds, assets, or property, or to benefit someone other than the elderly person or disabled adult” by a person whom the elderly person or with whom the disabled person trusts or has a business relationship.
If the exploitation of an elderly person or disabled person involves sums greater than $50,000, the offender commits a first-degree felony. If the amount is between $10,000 and $50,000, the offender commits a felony of the second degree, and if the funds are under $10,000, the offender commits a felony of the third degree.
What should you do if you believe that you or your loved one has been the victim of financial exploitation? First of all, you must document any and all instances of financial exploitation. Next, you should contact your local police department to file a police report. You should also contact the Florida
Abuse Hotline at 1.800.962.2873 to file a report of elder abuse, and The Department of Children and Families (DCF) will then conduct an investigation.
Should you need the services of an attorney to prevent or to handle exploitation of an elderly or disabled person, please call Wendy Mara at Mara Law at 386.672.8081. We offer consultations in both our Ormond Beach and Palm Coast offices.