Thunder Bay Man Charged with Theft and Fraud Against Elderly Relative’s Power of Attorney
Thunder Bay, ON – Financial abuse against the elderly is an all too common occurrence, and sometimes, the perpetrators are even family members. Recently, the Thunder Bay Police Service’s Crimes Against Seniors Division wrapped up a case involving financial abuse against a senior citizen. Investigators were contacted by concerned citizens in September of 2022, reporting suspected financial abuse by a family member who had been misusing their authority as the victim’s Power of Attorney.
It was discovered that the suspect had been diverting funds, intended for their mother’s daily needs and care facility payments, to themselves. Working with witnesses and multiple businesses, investigators were able to determine that more than 700 fraudulent transactions, totaling over $80,000, were made between January 2016 and December 2023.
As a result, a 47-year-old man from Thunder Bay is facing charges of Theft Over $5,000, Fraud Over $5,000, and Theft by Power of Attorney. A court date has been set for May 19, 2023, and the accused’s name is being withheld to protect the victim’s privacy.
This story is not meant to discourage anyone from having a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone you trust the right to make financial or health decisions for you, should you become temporarily or permanently incapacitated. In fact, having a Power of Attorney in place can actually help protect you from financial abuse, as it gives police more authority to pursue charges in cases like this.
However, it is essential to take steps to avoid Power of Attorney theft or fraud. Some key tips include naming two people you trust who can act jointly as your Attorneys, avoiding joint bank accounts or investments with your Power of Attorney, setting up automatic monthly expenses, regularly reviewing your financial statements and immediately reporting any questionable activity to your financial institution, and having regular conversations with your Attorney about your financial affairs. You can also consult a lawyer for additional advice.
For more information on Elder Abuse, Power of Attorneys, and your rights, please refer to the following resources: https://www.publications.gov.on.ca/the-office-of-the-public-guardian-and-trustee, https://211north.ca, https://eapon.ca, https://agefriendlythunderbay.ca, or the Senior Safety Line at 1-866-299-1011, which has trained counselors available 24/7.
March is Fraud Prevention Month, and it is essential to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca to learn more about common scams and how to avoid them. Police ask that you take time to speak with your vulnerable family members and friends who may be at a greater risk of being targeted by scammers.
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