The Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults is now law
The US Government estimates that roughly $3 billion dollars are lost each year due to the financial exploitation of senior citizens. In the District, the senior population, currently estimated at 120,000 residents, continues to grow, yet financial exploitation of seniors was not a crime!
Thanks to Councilmember Anita Bonds, The “Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults Amendment Act of 2015” penalizes criminals who target the property of citizens 65 and older and provides another tool for members of the community to combat these types of crimes against District seniors by:
• Creating the crime of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults to the criminal code. Financial exploitation means to knowingly and willfully obtain by deception, intimidation, or undue influence the property of an individual.
• Redefining vulnerable adult to include all persons aged 65 and above.
• Putting in place penalties for people found guilty of financial exploitation, and enables the exploited seniors an opportunity to recover their assets.
“Senior victims of financial exploitation are less equipped to recover from the loss” explained Councilmember Bonds. “Our legislation expands the legal tool box for addressing these crimes.”
• The bill has three main components:
1. It redefines vulnerable adult to include all persons aged 65 and above.
2. It creates the crime of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults to the criminal code, and defines the term undue influence.
3. It creates strong penalties for people found guilty of financial exploitation, and enables the victim a chance to recover their assets.
• The bill is necessary because victims who are older are more devastated by the loss of assets because their time and capacity to work and rebuild is a significantly shorter period of time.
• In crimes of financial exploitation, the elders have often been victimized by a trusted family member or caregiver, experienced abuse multiple times over a longer period of time, and suffered a negative health consequence, financial loss, a disruption in social relationships, or some combination of these as a consequence of their victimization.
• It is not uncommon for the victim to testify on behalf the accused, recant the claims of exploitation, or even deny the exploitation took place. The reasons for doing so are complex. The elder may be fearful of losing their autonomy if admitting someone got the better of them. Or, the elder may be fully isolated by the time the crime comes to light, and is fearful of losing the perpetrator as a companion or caretaker, and is hesitant to move forward with charges.