Widowed grandparent being sweetheart scammed. Is there anything I can do?

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My grandpa, 84 yo, recently lost his wife of 61 years to an aggressive brain tumor in March 2015. We had some time, 3 months, before her passing to help assist grandpa with getting up to speed with household management as grandma handled everything household related.

Within a month after her passing, grandpa met a woman at the senior center and after one visit, she quickly became a regular household visitor. Grandpa would take her to expensive restaurants several times a week which was very uncharacteristic of his financial expenditures. It was within a week of their meeting that he was confronted and warned by someone at the senior center of her money scheming intentions. But grandpa, deathly afraid of being all alone, refused to take heed. Needless to say, the family is not happy at all.

Fast forward 5 months, she is at his residence every day. She has requested he buy her glasses, take her on vacations, buy her a new car, take her gaming (and give her money to gamble because "she is luckier at the casino when she gambles with other's money") and she recently asked him to add her to his checking accounts. We've done a little research on her background and found she has a gambling addiction, previous troubles with unpaid taxes, SEC8 housing, and a bad reputation for being a swindler. She has convinced grandpa that his family is awful and only wants his money. He has met with a lawyer and revoked his children's financial access. From what we can tell, he's out a minimum of $40K in 5 months without any explanation of where the money has gone.

Lawfully, there is nothing the family can do about this as he is willing giving money to her. While we, the extended family, can clearly see her true intentions, Grandpa desperately doesn't want to be alone so gives in to all of her requests. He has stopped taking his medications and refuses to see a doctor. Soon, we imagine, he'll stop taking our phone calls as well as she has convinced him that his family is no good.

While he is quickly loosing his entire life savings, we feel like we are losing the patriarch of our family.

Is there anything we can do?

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
Legally, I don't know what you could do unless you have evidence that she is in fact manipulating him financially.

However, you could contact APS and ask them to investigate. It might scare the woman enough to back off; but it might also alienate you from your grandfather.

And there might be a legitimate medical issue since he's no longer taking meds and won't see a doctor. That might be part of her plan, to accelerate the deterioration in his health.

What I would do though is take the research you've done (which I also would have done myself), see perhaps a local law enforcement officer to see if he/she can pull a more detailed credit report, and then if necessary see an elder law or even a criminal attorney to determine if there are any other options to pursue.

I would also run her name as well as any aliases if you're aware of some through the local district and county court clerk lists of cases to see if anyone has filed a civil suit or if she's been charged in a criminal action.

If she's in Sec. 8 housing, I'm assuming the landlord would be paying the taxes as she would be a renter. You could research to find out who that is and ask if she's current with her rent. I don't think it would hurt to let her know you're wise to her manipulations.

I don't think you could get any information on whether her income taxes are current.

This woman moves fast - $40K in 5 months is a pretty swift pace. You might want to ask law enforcement officers if there's a special task force or squad that deals with predators of seniors. Maybe the state police or attorney general could help along that line as well, or even the FBI (I'm remembering the movie "Black Widow").

Are you aware of any men she's scammed who have died fairly quickly after she's become involved? On the other hand, if she picks older men, there are always health issues that could be considered a dominant factor anyway.

Retirement Living TV (RLTV) has aired programs on senior scamming. You might check their website and search programs to see if any information can be gained from their presentations.

The other option would be more drastic and that's to file for guardianship. If he doesn't have dementia, he certainly is displaying a lack of prudent financial management. If you do get guardianship, you can ask the local court to issue a PPO against her.

Or, you could hire a private investigator, who could discreetly make his presence known so that she's aware she's under scrutiny. It might scare her off.

Good luck; please let us know what you learn. This kind of situation is always troubling and frightening.
Give her a 1099 form to file with the IRS to account for all the money gpa has spent on her. You send a copy to the IRS, twice. And, a copy to the administrator of her section 8, and welfare.
Agree with all Garden Artist's ideas and have one more to add. Line up EVERYONE in your family and friends that you trust. Try to have 'visitors' at Grandpa's constantly. See if you can (quietly) remove her number from his contacts list. Check caller ID to see how often she is calling. Take Grandpa out ... to a local youth sports event, a different senior center, to church/house of worship events, etc. If he is busy, he will be happy. If she can't get money from him, she may move on. Have someone try to remove any items of value from his home. This may take some time, focus on small items first. Put these items in a safe for safe keeping. It is REALLY time for everyone to keep him company.
I think it may be time to start the process of getting guardianship. BUT....

If he's still considered competent, he can do what he wants with his funds, but he needs to sign a legal - looking paper for you, the family, that he understands that gifting money now will result in in eligibility for Medicaid later, and that you, the family, will not be providing housing or care for him when he needs it.

I would play hardball with Both of them.

OK, so you know she had used several names, and she horns in all family visits? So next time, front of Gpa, show her some printouts and ask about them. Say.. it has come to our attention that....why is this the case? Are you in witness protection or something? Yes he may be upset, but she will know you are onto her. The time for finesse is OVER. Flat out tell her others have filled you in.. you have contacted Dr, whatever it takes.If you can not scare her off, keep the visitors in the house. Move Uncle in anyway.. have him plead "nowhere to go"...
Is there any money to pay a Caregiver who can keep an eye on him and would need to be by his side at all times? The sweetheart wouldn't like a 3rd person watching over him. It seems that Grandpa is hanging onto this woman because he doesn't like to be alone.
Aliases - plural??? You've gotten terrific suggestions already. Your grandfather comes from a generation that deeply trusted law enforcement. Many private investigators are retired law enforcement. They have that presence - like Kojak. My added suggestion is find a PI (preferably one who looks like Telly Savalas - just kidding) who is willing to make house calls with you to your grandfather's house. Perhaps someone like that can get through to him? I agree with Pam - the time for playing nice is OVER. It's a real shame that law enforcement waits until a crime has been committed to get involved. Is there a way you can publicly shame her? Like find out what fancy restaurant he's taking her to and be there with the PI? And whoever from your family is taking your grandfather out has every right to show her the door because there's just no place for her. Insert yourself and assert yourself. I wish you lots of luck.
I was really bothered by your post. People who prey on old people are scum even if they themselves are old. I did a little research and discovered that the FBI investigates and collects data on sweetheart romance schemes. Look up their Internet Crime Complaint Center. The website is www.ic3.gov.

It also occurred to me that the senior center should be confronted because that's where she "works" on people like your grandfather. I would not hesitate to confront the director of the senior center, tell the director what's been happening between your grandpa and this woman, and see what the director knows about her like whether or not she's new in town or has a history with men there. I would also not hesitate to ask the director to help you work with local authorities. Senior centers are supposed to be where seniors can socialize safely. The last thing a senior center director wants is bad publicity.
These scammers are despicable. This happened with an uncle in my husband's family as well. In the end they took everything. Many excellent suggestions in previous posts. Glad you and the family are trying every angle of attack.

One thing I did not see mentioned. These scammers often work in groups. There is often an enticing person who endears him or her self to the victim. They may work in cahoots with some one who knows how to quickly manipulate financial and legal information stolen from the victims. They are pros. In the case in our family they were on the scene mere days after the uncle was widowed. We were immediately suspicious and even contacted an attorney, but the uncle and his late wife's sister trusted this group who called themselves a church. This group quickly arranged for a housekeeper/caregiver who the uncle fell for within weeks. Long story short, the uncle was wiped out within a few months and died not long after. The scammers had already disappeared.

Trust no one involved with that woman. Track down and investigate her family and even her friends at the senior center. Good luck!
Magdalena, that must have been so frustrating and devastating for your family. These people clearly were accomplished crooks; it sounds as if they have a method and scenario worked out from significant practice.

Without prying or making you feel uncomfortable, I'm wondering if the FBI was informed, or any national task force on fraud? I suspect these people may move from town to town or even state to state, and unless there's a pattern detected by multiple law enforcement departments or at state and national level, they could get away with their activities for some time. I'm guessing they change their names as often as they change their locations.

Frustrated and your posts have been very sad and unsettling, but also insightful and helpful, and have helped me make a decision that I've been considering, which is not to print obituaries in newspapers or online, and specifically make it a part of any funeral contract I sign that there will be no public notification. I might even require that posting of the funeral in the funeral's website be withheld.

The people who need to know are ones I'll be contacting anyway, there can be a memorial sheet of relevant facts for attendees, and no one who isn't contacted need be aware of empty houses of relatives on the funeral day, empty house of the deceased, or who any of the relatives are.

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