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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ontario woman, 69, ripped off by nephew

I'm attaching a link to a news story from Sun News about a 69-year-old woman in Ontario who has been defrauded by her nephew. Click here to read the article.

According to the article, Shanti Devi lent her nephew $70,000, none of which was repaid. The nephew allegedly bought a house in Mrs. Devi's name by forging her signature, with the help of a dishonest lawyer. When the nephew couldn't make the mortgage payments, he dumped the paperwork on Mrs. Devi, saying that since her name was on it, it's her problem. She can't afford to pay for it.

The lawyer was disbarred and left the country. The police are looking for the nephew. Mrs. Devi is left in financial dire straits with nothing but a monthly pension to live on.

I wish I could say that this type of thing is unusual. It's depressingly common. Many seniors are ripped off by family members or others they know well. I don't know any more about this case than I've read in this article, but I recognize one aspect that I see frequently - the senior tried to deal with the situation by herself. She appears to be alone. I don't know how she felt about her nephew asking for money, but since she couldn't afford to lend or give him money and ended up making herself almost destitute to help him, I'm guessing he applied some uncomfortable pressure on her to get the funds.

Pressuring an older relative for money this way is financial abuse. I hope that idiotic nephew goes to jail. And I' very pleased that the law society booted that lawyer out of our profession and made sure he won't be able to rip off anyone else.

But what about a senior in this position? It may well be impossible for her to recover any of the money she has lost. This will impact her for the rest of her life. A senior may feel  helpless in the face of pressure, trickery or even violence from family members who want money. One of the ways to combat this is to talk. It may sound simple, but isolation leads to abuse going undetected.

Talk to a lawyer if you can afford one. Talk to seniors' advocacy groups and help lines. Talk to the police if items or cash go missing. Talk to other family members or close friends who may be able to step in. There is nothing embarrassing or condemning about being the victim of a crime; you are not the one doing something wrong.

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