My MIL is giving money away and has her name on other people's phone bills. Can we file for fraud? -

My MIL is giving money away and has her name on other people's phone bills. Can we file for fraud?


My Mother in Law has had her name on a "Friend" phone bill for the past two years. This Friend died just last week. Now they Children of this "Friend" are coming to her for money. My mother in law is 76 and does not feel that this is wrong. When asked she pedals around the subject and wont answer questions directly. My Husband and His sister feel this is something we need to look into.

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A woman with no physical or mental health problems can spend her money any darn way she wants to.

She may be tight-lipped about this because she is a little embarrassed that she got herself into this situation. Or may she just considers it her business and wants her relatives to butt out.

She's still working full-time. Surely it is her money. She doesn't need permission from her children to give it away.

If there is any evidence that something might not be right here ... that someone is blackmailing her (for enough to pay a phone bill?!) or tricking her, then trying to look into it may be justified. But if it is just curiosity about why she would do this, I don't think that justifies trying to encroach on her privacy.
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We do not know what exactly is going on. As She is tight lipped about what is going on. I do not think she has a POA She is mentally and Physically Fit No health Care concerns at all. She still has her Full time job, she works with Kids. There are 3 bothers and 1 sister. Only 2 of the 4 who feel this warrants being looked into. I have no idea as I am kinda new to all of this.
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Correction and further comments....

Jeanne makes good points. I think the issue might be whether your MIL really knows what she's doing when giving this money away, the extent of it, the circumstances, etc.

If she's responding, e.g., to one of the notorious fraud schemes that seek to rope people in with continuing contributions of funds under the pretense of winning something or holding money for someone, then there would fraud involved, as these schemes are attempts to defraud people.

The title of your post infers that it isn't just one phone bill which lists her name. If this is the case, how many, who are these people, and how did her name get on these bills?

White collar criminal law isn't my specialty but I understand an element of proof is the intent to commit fraud. If these people she's helping are just spongers, it may or may not be fraud - the intent would be hard to prove.

Jeanne makes some good points about how the donations would affect MIL's own situation. I think more information on these various potentially fraudulent situations would be helpful.
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On the one hand, it is your mother's money and she is entitled to do with it as she pleases.

On the other hand, I can understand that you want to protect her being taken advantage of. Your profile does not say she had dementia or that she is incompetent in other ways. The best way to do protect her at this point is through persuasion.

I'm not sure where the fraud comes in. Are the people to whom she is giving money tricking her into giving it? Falsely claiming she owes it to them? Promising something in return that you know they can't deliver? If they are merely asking her for money or favors and she agrees to give it to them, I'm not sure that is fraud.

What amounts are involved? Is this apt to have an impact on her ability to care for herself? If she wants to pay a friend's phone bill, and now to do the same for the friend's children, and she can well afford the amount she is giving away, I'm not sure there is a need for you to get involved. If she is giving away large amounts that she can't really afford, I hope your husband and his sister can talk her into protecting her own assets better.

Has she appointed a POA at this point?
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Specifically, do you mean that your mother was listed as the responsible party on the phone bill of a friend?

Does anyone have a durable power of attorney for her? If so, that person could contact the phone service provider and have her name removed.

As to filing fraud charges, it depends on how your MIL's name got on the phone bill, i.e., if it was done w/o her permission it would likely be considered fraud.

I agree it should be investigated, but it sounds as if MIL isn't going to provide much helpful information. Sounds like your husband and his sister do need to get involved and perhaps take over her finances. There may be other financial abuses that have been perpetrated against her.
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