Arrest Made in $1.2 Million Retirement Fraud Against Florida Seniors
CBS Miami is reporting this week that 4 arrests have been made in a $1.2 million money laundering scheme that left at least 17 elderly people from all over the country with significantly less in their retirement accounts.
Working together, the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested 4 of the 6 suspected thieves who allegedly operated shell companies in order to broker the buying and selling of precious metals as an investment option to elderly people. Victims would withdraw money from their retirement funds and give it to the thieves to invest in the metals. In reality, less than 1% of the money given was actually invested.
The thieves assured their victims that the investment would turn a quick profit but left many of the elderly investors with nothing. The defendants allegedly incorporated the shell companies in Florida and filed articles of incorporation with the Florida Division of Corporations. The defendants are all being charged in racketeering information for grand theft, fraudulent securities transactions, money laundering, and unlicensed telemarketing. Under a new expansion of the Florida State Code, the prosecution in this case may be able to pursue yet another charge against the defendants–exploitation of the elderly.
The New 2014 Florida Exploitation of Elderly Statute
According to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Florida currently ranks first in the nation in percentage of citizens who are elders. Florida has nearly 5 million residents who are age 60 or over, and this number is expected to climb to 9.7 million residents by 2030. Unfortunately, this makes Florida a hotbed for financial crimes and scams perpetrated against its elderly residents. Police authorities in Florida, along with the state legislature, have been active and aggressive in passing and enforcing laws that protect the elderly from financial exploitation.
For several decades, Florida protected its elders from all forms of exploitation by prosecuting alleged abuse under Chapter 415 of the Florida State Code. Although Chapter 415 remains, on October 15 of this year, the legislature went a step further and updated Chapter 825 of the code to specifically address the exploitation of an elderly or disabled person.
Chapter 825 defines an “elderly person” as someone 60 years of age or older “who is suffering from the infirmities of aging as manifested by advanced age or organic brain damage, or other physical, mental, or emotional dysfunctioning, to the extent that the ability of the person to provide adequately for the person’s own care or protection is impaired.” Therefore, in order to prosecute under this chapter, the victim must be at least age 60 and have some type of dysfunction that affects their ability to provide adequately for their own care and protection.
Chapter 825 goes on to defined “exploitation of an elderly person to mean:
- Knowingly obtaining or using, or endeavoring to obtain or use, an elderly person’s or disabled adult’s funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the elderly person or disabled adult of the use, benefit, or possession of the funds, assets, or property, or to benefit someone other than the elderly person or disabled adult, by a person who:
- Stands in a position of trust and confidence with the elderly person or disabled adult; or
- Has a business relationship with the elderly person or disabled adult;
- Obtaining or using, endeavoring to obtain or use, or conspiring with another to obtain or use an elderly person’s or disabled adult’s funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the elderly person or disabled adult of the use, benefit, or possession of the funds, assets, or property, or to benefit someone other than the elderly person or disabled adult, by a person who knows or reasonably should know that the elderly person or disabled adult lacks the capacity to consent.
Competent, experienced legal advice on elder law is advised in order to properly sue or defendant against a violation of Florida’s exploitation of the elderly statute. If you or someone you know has been the victim of elder financial exploitation, please feel free to contact Boca Raton attorney Gregory Tendrich, P.A. today.