Elderly residents will have new protections against fraud and financial abuse under a new state law. Legislation creating the crime of mistreatment of an elder person was signed by Governor Sam Brownback in April. The law is aimed at protecting people 70 and older who are victims of financial abuse. People convicted of large-scale abuse could be sentenced to more than 40 years in prison.
The new Kansas Elder Abuse Law applies when a victim of financial abuse is age 70 or older. It "substantially enhances" penalties for stealing from an elderly person. If convicted of large-scale financial abuse, the offender could face more than 40 years in prison.
The new law also makes misusing a trust instrument or power of attorney a crime when used to misappropriate an elder person's life savings. According to news reported on kake.com, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the law will help protect seniors because it has clearer boundaries, better investigative tools and tougher penalties. The AG said the law adds protections against misusing a financial trust or power of attorney for the purpose of misappropriating a person's life savings.
"Our office takes seriously the duty to protect Kansas senior citizens from fraud and abuse," Schmidt said. "These new tools will build on the record financial recoveries our Consumer Protection Division has obtained in recent years and will allow the state to go further and put con artists who prey on Kansas seniors behind bars."
The bill's sponsors said it gives law enforcement another tool to protect older residents. Elder financial abuse spans a broad spectrum of conduct, including:
- Taking money or property;
- Forging a senior's signature;
- Getting an aged person to sign a deed, will, or power of attorney through deception, coercion, or undue influence;
- Using an aged person's property or possessions without permission;
- Promising lifelong care in exchange for money or property and not following through on the promise;
- Confidence crimes ("cons") or scams using deception to gain senior's confidence;
- Fraud is the use of deception, trickery, false pretence, or dishonest acts or statements for financial gain; and
- Telemarketing scams where perpetrators call seniors and use deception, scare tactics, or exaggerated claims to get them to send money.
This list isn't exhaustive. If you need help, contact an elder law attorney.
Reference: kake.com (Apr 22, 2014) "Kansas elder abuse measure becomes law"