DA to crack down on elder abuse in Greater Taunton

The Taunton Gazette
Marc Larocque
August 30, 2015

TAUNTON — Combating elder abuse in Taunton and surrounding communities will be a priority for county prosecutors, according to Bristol County District Attorney Tom Quinn.

During a visit with a group of about 40 people at the Taunton Council on Aging, Quinn spoke on Thursday about the need for elder abuse prosecution and prevention efforts, to hold offenders accountable while also spreading awareness to protect senior citizens before the damage is done in cases of financial exploitation.

Often in cases of financial abuse, efforts to reclaim restitution through the court system is lengthy and difficult, especially when the perpetrators spend all the money they steal.

Bristol County District Attorney Tom Quinn address the group at Taunton Council on … [+] Buy Photo

“As I go along in my administration, this is going to be a focus of mine,” Quinn said. “When issues arise … we are going to deal with them, and when it’s appropriate prosecute, and also try to get the word out so we don’t get to that point. Because when the money is taken, you may not get it back, and it causes a lot of turmoil and stress in one’s life.”
There are approximately 21,000 cases of elder abuse in Massachusetts each year, Quinn said. One-third of those cases are financial exploitation, according to the district attorney.

Quinn broke down the discussion into the categories of neglect, physical abuse and financial exploitation, and offered practical tips, such as never providing payments or financial information over the phone to anyone acting as a charity solicitor or anyone claiming to be an IRS or government agent. Never wire money to anybody, Quinn said, and practice saying no to people asking for money or information.

Sadly, elders even have to be aware that financial exploitation and theft is often committed by family members or other people they know.

“Elder abuse comes in several forms,” Quinn said. “It can be physical, which is outrageous. It can be physical also in the form of neglect, which unfortunately we are seeing more cases of. … We also sadly have financial exploitation that goes on through a variety of means. It can be, sadly, through family members, caretakers, scams that are perpetrated through social media, on the phone and various forms of communication.”

Quinn said that it can be embarrassing for an older person when a family member takes advantage of them, but that it must be treated seriously.

“It’s embarrassing financially if a family member is taking advantage of you,” Quinn said. “We review reports of financial crime. If we can make a case of it, we will. Those matters aren’t going to be treated lightly. Stealing someone’s life savings or any amount of money is unacceptable, to say the least.”

Quinn said that elderly people deserve to be protected from such abuse, and that others should speak out to law enforcement when they suspect elder abuse is taking place.

“Our elders are a precious commodity, in my opinion,” Quinn said. “People such as yourself have committed much to the community and your families, and are in a more vulnerable stage later in life to be exploited, particularly financially.”

Quinn and representatives from his office then provided further information and pamphlets on different schemes being conducted to cheat elders out of their money.

“We’re trying to get info out so people are aware of it, and don’t get sucked into these,” Quinn said.

Original article: http://www.tauntongazette.com/article/20150830/NEWS/150839799