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Financial Abuse spans a broad spectrum of conduct including:

  • Taking money or property
  • Forging a person’s signature
  • Persuading a person to sign a deed, will or power of attorney through deception, coercion, or undue influence
  • Using the person’s property or possessions without permission or promising care in exchange for money or property and not following through on the promise.
  • Confidence crimes, where deception is used to gain the victim’s confidence. These include scams or fraudulent acts where trickery, deception and false pretence is used for financial gain. For example, telemarketing scams where perpetrators call victims and use deception and scare tactics, or exaggerated claims to get them to send money or making charges against the victim's credit cards without authorisation.

Indicators that financial abuse is taking place include:

  • Unpaid bills, eviction notices or disconnected utilities
  • Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts that the person cannot explain
  • Bank statements and cancelled cheques no longer come to the person’s home
  • New best friends, maybe someone has befriended the person and seems to be influencing them
  • Legal documents signed which the person didn’t understand at the time of signing, this could be documents such as a power of attorney or wills
  • Unusual activity in the person’s bank accounts such as cash withdrawals, frequent transfers or cash-point withdrawals.

Behavioural indicators could include:

  • The caregiver expressing an excessive interest in the amount of money being spent on the person
  • Missing belongings or property
  • Suspicious signatures on cheques or other documents
  • An absence of documentation about financial arrangements
  • Implausible explanations about the person’s finances, either by the person or the caregiver
  • The person is unaware of or does not understand the financial arrangements that have been made for him or her.

The elderly are attractive targets of financial abuse, in some cases, they are not even aware of the value of their assets or they may have disabilities that make them dependent on others for help and have predictable routines.

Many abusers assume that frail victims will not survive long enough to follow through on legal interventions or that the victim will not make a convincing witness.

Severely sight impaired individuals are less likely to take action against their abusers as a result of illness or embarrassment.