Seniors — one in three die with dementia — are often scammed by family members, police told
ALBANY COUNTY — Elizabeth Loewy said that, when philanthropist Brooke Astor was bilked out of millions of dollars by her son, the amounts of money were huge but the patterns were similar to crimes happening against seniors everywhere.
Loewy, who had served as chief of the Elder Abuse Unit in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, was co-counsel in the Astor trial; Brooke Astor’s son was convicted of grand larceny.
Loewy was speaking at a forum Monday afternoon to help educate police about elder financial abuse. Police from Guilderland, Bethlehem, Colonie, Albany, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, and the State Police attended.
“Bring what you learn today back to your agencies and departments, and spread it,” urged Albany’s acting police chief, Robert Sears, at the start of the three-and-a-half-hour session.
“Time is not on our side,” said Albany County District Attorney David Soares in his opening remarks about dealing with crimes targeting old people. “Successful prosecution begins … with relationship building,” he said.
“We all want to age with our dignity intact,” said Loewy. She called cases of elder financial exploitation “truly sad” and said that most older people who have been defrauded die son afterwards.
The penal law has no definition of elder financial exploitation, she said. “You know it when you see it.”
She gave examples such as someone cashing an elderly person’s checks without permission, misusing or stealing an old person’s money or possessions, coercing or deceiving an older person into signing a document like a will, or improperly using guardianship or power of attorney.