'Distressing': Edmonton police Senior Protection Unit raises alarm over growing exploitation

Article content

The Edmonton city police Senior Protection Unit is launching a new education campaign to remind the public that exploiting seniors through a Power of Attorney (POA) is a criminal offence.

“Victims of theft undertaken by their appointed Power of Attorney are often reluctant to accept that one of their children, a member of their extended family or a life-long friend would steal from them,” Det. Alfred Ma, a veteran investigator with the service’s Senior Protection Unit, said in a Thursday statement.

Article content

“We suspect there are many incidents that also go unreported. Some are also reported after a senior’s death when the will takes effect. At that time, family members discover that there is little if any funds left from the seniors’ estate to share between remaining family members. Not only are they dealing with the death of their loved one, but the criminal behaviour and betrayal of a surviving family member. It can be very distressing for people.”

An enduring POA is a legal document that gives another person the authority to make financial decisions on someone’s behalf, say police. Typically, a senior would select someone to act as their POA, which then could be included as a separate document along with their personal will by a lawyer.

In many cases, by the time the POA is enacted, the senior has lost capacity or the ability to be able to properly manage their own finances, explained Ma.

“These thefts are also brought to light by the administrators of long-term care homes, when the seniors’ accounts suddenly have insufficient funds to cover their monthly fees.”

Related Stories

Article content

In one similar case investigated by the Senior Protection Unit, detectives were contacted by a long-term care facility regarding monthly payments for a senior’s accommodation and care. A member of the senior’s family was assigned as their attorney under the POA. Once the facility realized that the senior’s account had insufficient funds, they contacted the Senior Protection Unit, and an investigation was launched.

The investigation revealed that the accused had been e-transferring funds from the senior’s account. It was discovered that the accused had stolen more than $1,000,000 from the senior via the POA over several years. The person was charged with fraud and theft over $5,000 via POA.

In an attempt to raise further awareness about Power of Attorney and the criminal consequences associated with the fraudulent exploitation of seniors under a POA, city police are launching a new 15-second commercial, which will be airing on Edmonton television stations over the coming weeks.

More information about elder abuse, including the financial exploitation of senior citizens through their Power of Attorney, can be found on the city police website.

To report Elder Abuse, contact the city police complaint line at 780-423-4567.

Share this article in your social network