Not all forms of elder and nursing home abuse are physical. Financial elder abuse is becoming more of a problem in this country. Nursing home employees and caregivers are taking advantage of the elderly and sometimes even stealing large amounts of money from them or putting themselves in charge of their finances. Banks will often issue signature stamps to their elderly and disabled customers who are not able to physically go to the bank. Some caregivers are using these stamps to steal thousands of dollars from their elderly patients.
Caregiver uses Signature Stamp to Steal from Elderly Woman
Liz Sanders is a Southern California woman who is fighting against financial elder abuse because her mother, Bette Isenberg, was taken advantage of by her caregiver. Before Bette died at the age of 82 last year, she was bedridden and required round-the-clock care. The woman charged with her care used a signature stamp to cash checks, empty her bank account, access her life insurance fund, and add herself to department store accounts by faxing over a letter that was signed with the signature stamp. Helen Wofford was convicted and sentenced to 32 months in prison. Liz sanders testified to the life-altering effects of Wofford’s actions:
“This $20 signature stamp cost my mother three-quarters of a million dollars and left her in financial ruin. This has been heartbreaking and I don’t want any other family to have to go through this.”
Ms. Sanders is now testifying in support of a bill authorized by Senator Fran Pavley that will enforce new regulations on the issuing of signature stamps. The bill would make it harder for caregivers with ill intentions to obtain the stamps by requiring that a bank employee witness and sign all requests for new signature stamps. Customers given the stamps will also be provided with information on the risks associated with them, in hopes that people will be more aware of the signs of theft or fraud, and also more careful of where the signature stamps are kept. The bill would also increase the punishment for financial elder abuse in California.
This is an excellent step in protecting the elderly from being taken advantage of in California. However, the rest of the country needs to be aware of this issue. Ordering signature stamps for your elderly loved ones can be risky and should be done with caution. Do not leave the stamp around where caregivers or others could potentially take possession of them. Check bank and credit card statements on a regular basis to make sure there are no mysterious charges, and report any suspicions that you may have.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in New Jersey and Philadelphia
If your loved one is being taken advantage of financially, or you believe the care they are recieving is abusive or negligent, you should contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation. You may also call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, and (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.