Conning The Elderly
Conning The Elderly
I've talked about this subject in my blog and talked about the person who did it. Now I want to talk about how sick and twisted someone who would do such a thing is. I promise I will not turn this into a rant article but I do want to discuss the ramifications on both sides of engaging in this kind of behavior.
My dad passed away recently(four days ago to be exact) and unfortunately we dealt(we are not completely rid of him yet) with a con man who moved in on my dad.
First, if you happen to be one of those people who gets your rocks off by taking advantage of little old ladies and fragile old men start thinking twice about your actions because firstly what goes around comes around and secondly sooner or later you will get caught and there are hefty penalties for taking advantage of an elderly person. Thirdly, you are a con man or con woman and probably the lowest form of life there is.
Let's talk about taking advantage of the elderly. I originally called the article taking advantage but let's be blunt and call it like it is. If you take advantage of the elderly for financial gain or for any gain for that matter you are a con man.
Unfortunately, my father fell prey to one of these people. Unfortunately, he also wouldn't listen. But just because the elderly will not listen to their families when it comes to cons doesn't make you righteous or moral. There is nothing moral about taking advantage of someone in their elder years when maybe they are lonely and think you are being their friend. You are still scum of the earth.
Now let's switch sides and stay there. For the majority of people reading this they are either on the same side as me, having a parent who's fallen prey to a con/schemer, or they have no experience with this kind of thing period.
Con men(women) and schemers which are essentially the same thing are usually out for only one thing and that is to rid the elderly person of his/her financial assets and bring it into their possession. This is an intricate process. First they must try and gain trust, Without that they will get nowhere as most old people are very much set in their ways and as the old saying goes are not spring chickens, didn't just fall off the tomato truck or something similar. So gaining trust is a time consuming task of manipulation, mind games and scheming. This process is much easier accomplished if the con can move in with the person. So if you happen to see someone getting closer than you think is right trust your gut instinct and never allow yourself to be swayed by the schemer because he/she will always keep his/her true intentions masked and remember if the con is trying to con your parent and you too in the process he/she has been doing it a long time. More than likely they've been honing their skill for most of their life.
AS for what you can legally do that is another matter. IN my dad's case the lawyer laid out exactly what I could do which was to try and have my dad declared legally incompetent but warned of the ramifications of doing so especially if the parent isn't incompetent. IN my dad's case he was not incompetent. He was guilty of bad decision making yes but nothing more. Of course the lawyer would have taken the case and taken my money had I been stupid enough to rake it over but he did warn that didn't think it was winnable so proceeding was not a good idea.
Just because we don't like what our parents are doing or we don't think it is right doesn't add up to incompetence. If this were the case we could have our children declared incompetent, heck we could even have our bosses declared unfit not to mention countless children would have their parents incompetent putting them in charge when they didn't agree with a parents decision.
This is precisely why an incompetence case is difficult. There must be clear evidence a judge can see to have someone declared incapable of running their own affairs. Otherwise it runs into a very gray area. If a person has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and runs down the street with no idea where they are almost every day then incompetence isn't very difficult but it isn't this easy most of the time.
If are going through something like this and have any questions my advice is to speak with an attorney and be honest because if you choose to proceed the lawyer will talk to your parent and so will the judge. And listen to what he has to say. If he thinks he can't win it most likely he can't, I'm not saying lawyers are always right because they fall short just like everyone else but if you have doubts speak to more than one attorney and if you hear the same thing out of each of their mouths then you can trust what they're saying.
And remember even if the lawyer thinks you have a case and you proceed but you don't win you have forever damaged the relationship and you can never make up for that damage. And it could make them so angry they might do something stupid or crazy like turning the sum of their estate over to an outsider out of spite and hurt making you have to fight the outsider(con man) for years in probate court. And the con could end up getting some your parents estate whether you like it or not.
Unfortunately, this very scenario happens every day all over the country by no fault of the children. Their parents fall prey to a con and before the family knows it someone has gotten almost everything your parent owned.
This leaves the children fighting the con in court and it completely overrides the grief process taking it that much longer to heal. Unfortunately, when a parent chooses to give their things(money, etc.) to an outsider there is no amount of grief than can override the anger. The theme goes from, "I wish my parent were still here", to "I'm glad they're dead and hope he/she is burning in Hell", "I'll never forgive my Mom/Dad", etc., etc.
There is no surefire way to guard against a con. You can't legally have your Mom/Dad declared incompetent if he/she isn't. But you can stay as close as possible. Unfortunately, in our busy society where everyone has to work even in times of grief staying close is that much harder. It's impossible to watch everything your parents do when you aren't around. Most people can't give up their jobs to do so. The only thing you can do is stay in close contact. If you can't see them every day then try to call every day, if they like email use that. Use them all. Make sure you know what's going on. Sometimes this means going through their personal papers. This can be difficult but believe me if your parent has fallen prey to a con and trust me when I say this, the con has seen every single personal paper in your parents possession. They have looked at their bank accounts, life insurance policies, investment accounts, pension plans, retirement, social security checks and any other checks they receive. They've probably even called up the banks and other institutions and pretended to be your Mom/Dad. If they are really good at being a con they not only know all about your parents finances/property they know what the family has as well.
Everything you think is wrong with the world is sewn up in one person in a con man. A con is not just a crook he is a liar, cheater, backstabber, master manipulator, identity thief, a criminal. He doesn't care about others only himself although he will try to make you think he does. He can look you right in the eye and lie. He's been a con man for probably most of his life so he's gotten good at what he does.
Don't worry, most of the time you can spot a con man a mile away even the good ones.
It didn't take long for me to see through my dad's schemer.
If you happen to move in with an elderly person out of the goodness of your heart(this is rare) don't expect to get anything. Even if you think you're deserving(you may be) don't expect you'll get anything more than what you came into the situation with. The children are not going to sit idly by while you rake in some the person's estate, they will fight you in court and while you may think it's worth fighting for you'll more than likely not win.
If you lived with the parent expect that as soon as everything is settled and probably much sooner the children are going to demand you move out.
If you happened to have moved out earlier but left some things behind planning to get them later don't expect you will receive them. If you return to the home and find your things gone you have no legal remedy. You can't take the dead to court. If you believe the children destroyed your stuff well good luck proving it. If the parent isn't dead but in a nursing home you still have no legal remedy. Nursing home patients aren't usually legally competent and if they are the facility will make sure they have no much dope pumped into their veins they appear to be unfit.
You may wonder why a nursing home would do something like that, well for one it keeps the patient malleable and second the home doesn't want to be responsible for taking the patient out. If something happened while away from the home they are liable. NO one wants to be exposed to lawsuits.
With that said, if you have lost a loved one recently then please accept my condolences.