Caregiver gift is on the rise. Nothing is worse than trusting someone in your home only to have them steal. The crime is especially bad when the victim is elderly or an otherwise vulnerable person.
As baby boomers age, more and more become dependent on outside caregivers. Some need to move to an assisted living facility while others require more help such as that offered in a skilled nursing facility. Many seniors, however, are able to remain at home and rely on in home assistance.
Those arrangements are wonderful for most people. Unfortunately there are evil people who prey on the elderly and home bound.
Caregiver Embezzles from 81 Year Old Dementia Patient
We start with Sharese Mattis who was recently arrested by the Hartford (CT) Police. They say Mattis was a home care worker who was employed by an 81 year old retired physician suffering from dementia. She is accused of embezzling $180,000 from him.
Police she was able to steal this in just 3 years. She allegedly did so by increasing her pay using his online bank account.
Mattis is charged with first degree larceny, identity theft, computer fraud, and forgery.
In our experience, collecting restitution from an individual is difficult. By the time the prosecution is over, the money is long spent. If the caregiver works for a service, however, collection is generally easier. Most agencies and homecare services have insurance.
Caregiver Steals from 68 Year Old Disabled Teacher
A 68 year old retired teacher confined to a wheelchair hired a caregiver in 2015. She found the caregiver on a state sponsored website that matches patients with caregivers.
What she didn’t know, however, is that her caregiver had quite a record including drug possession, theft, theft, assault and even a car theft charge.
She grew suspicious when a check bounced. By then, she sadly learned that she was the victim of a $20,000 theft, mostly account withdrawals and credit card charges. It took her caregiver just 4 months to steal that much.
When she confronted her caregiver, the response was “Yeah, so what?”
Another caregiver is accused of stealing anti-seizure medication from a patient with epilepsy and replacing it with aspirin. That could have been fatal if not caught in time.
How to Protect Yourself from Caregiver Theft
Despite having so many people dependent on home caregivers, most states have no licensing or training requirements. If they have a training requirement, it is virtually worthless. (Massachusetts requires home care workers to have 3 hours of training.)
Today many websites offer to match homecare workers with patients but these websites offer little or no oversight. Anyone can post an ad, even criminals.
So what can you do?
First, consider hiring a caregiver through a reputable agency. At least there is some level of supervision and oversight. Once again, make sure the agency is reputable.
Look for reviews and always check references. (Be careful with references as anyone can simply list friends as references.)
And finally, make sure the agency has insurance and its workers are bonded. If something does happen and you find yourself the victim of caregiver theft, at least you or your family can get reimbursed for any losses.
Whether at home or in a nursing facility, family should always have an active role in watching over finances. In our experience, patients who are alone and have no visitors or visible family are the most likely to become victims of caregiver theft.
If you are the patient and have no nearby friends or family, ask a local church for assistance. Not only will you feel better by having visitors, the chances of becoming a victim decrease the more others are active in your life.
About us – Protecting Seniors from Elder Financial Abuse
We are a law firm that protects seniors and vulnerable patients from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Generally, we limit our practice to death cases, serious injuries and elder financial abuse where the loss is $250,000 and there is a method of collecting damages.
To learn more, visit us online, by email [hidden email] or by phone at 833-201-1555.