In an interesting legal strategy, the attorney for a 76-year-old woman from Deland, Florida has filed suit against a Las Vegas company claiming elder abuse, according to recent reports. Normally, fraud cases are handled as criminal charges, but in this case the fraud perpetuated cost the elderly victim so much that her attorney is attempting to have the matter treated as an elder abuse case and recover damages in civil court.
Scams Involving the Elderly
The victim in this case wanted to earn extra income and responded to an ad for an online course which would provide her with the learning necessary to use the Internet to make extra income. The company stated that it would charge a one-time fee of $199 and then a monthly fee of $13.95 for each month she used the service. Instead they charged her $20,000; the company charged a fee of $10,000 one day and then another $10,000 the very next day. In exchange for their exorbitant fees the company provided the victim a list of addresses and no explanation of how to use them and provided no actual training in earning potential as promised.
The victim filed suit claiming the company had no intention of teaching her anything and is requesting full restitution as well as treble damages as part of a civil suit. There is no word on whether any criminal charges will be filed against the company.
Protection for Seniors
The National Adult Protective Services Association states that one in nine seniors reported being abused, neglected or exploited in some manner in the last year. Financial exploitation rates are extremely high and growing at an increasing rate. Financial exploitation includes, but is not limited to, forging signatures, misusing or stealing money or possessions, and coercing or deceiving the elderly into signing documents such as wills or contracts and fraud by deception.
These types of Internet scams are not uncommon and prey on individuals who may lack an understanding of common language used in scams. Scammers have gotten very good at these deceptions by creating websites that “look” legitimate and appear to meet the needs of the elderly. In many cases scammers will offer to provide training in order to earn extra income for anyone with a computer and access to the Internet.
Nevada has been very proactive in enacting laws to protect seniors. However, those laws are set in place to serve only after the abuse or exploitation has taken place, and often involve social service agencies that are grossly understaffed. The average complaint may take months, if not years, to produce any results.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, let the lawyers of our firm Bernstein & Poisson help you by scheduling a consultation today.