“A new state law is aimed at reducing how often older Ohioans are defrauded and increasing financial penalties for those who exploit the elderly.”
A new state law was recently signed into law by Ohio Governor John Kasich that ups the financial penalties for theft from an elderly person. The legislation requires someone convicted of defrauding an elderly person to pay full restitution, plus a fine of up to $50,000. The fine will go to county agencies in charge of investigating elder abuse.
SF Gate’s article, “New Ohio law targets elder fraud as cases on the rise,” reports that more than 3,630 cases of elder exploitation were reported across Ohio in fiscal year 2018. That number includes 277 cases in Montgomery County, 191 in Butler County and 79 in Clark County.
The bill was sponsored by state Senator Steve Wilson, R-Maineville. He’s a retired CEO of LCNB National Bank.
“Day after day, we saw our seniors being ripped off,” Wilson said of his years working at the bank. “It is really an epidemic of people going after our most frail and fragile citizens. They can convince them they won the lottery and they haven’t bought a ticket.”
Ohio’s new law also adds certain financial workers to the list of individuals who are required to inform law enforcement, if they have reasonable cause to believe an elderly person has been abused, neglected or exploited.
The new law also mandates that the Ohio Attorney General distribute at least six public awareness publications every year that educate the public on the warning signs that exploitation might be occurring, how to report suspected elder fraud and resources available to prevent or remedy elder fraud or financial exploitation.
Senator Wilson said that employees of financial institutions see when a regular customer who comes in weekly to make a modest withdrawal suddenly takes out massive sums of money. The withdrawals are frequently based on suspicious information the elderly individual gets from a family member or friend.
The new state law requires those working in banks to notify authorities, if they fear elder abuse fraud is happening. It also gives those employees information about resources for victims. Seniors lose about $2.9 billion a year to fraud, and just a bit more than 4% of cases are reported to authorities.
There are many types of elderly fraud. A common scheme involves criminals calling seniors and pretending to be relatives in need of emergency financial assistance. In addition, home repair scams frequently prey on the elderly.
Reference: SF Gate (December 26, 2018) “New Ohio law targets elder fraud as cases on the rise”