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Monday, May 16, 2016

Edmonton man charged with Theft by Person Holding Power of Attorney

The Senior Protection Unit of the Edmonton Police Service has recently issued a media release about a man named Jeffrey Edward Stals. Mr. Stals has been charged with defrauding his 94-year-old grandmother out of $265,000 while he was appointed under her Power of Attorney. Click here to see more details on this story from the Edmonton Police's website.

In Canada, there is a specific crime called Theft by Person Holding Power of Attorney. Mr. Stals is charged with that, appropriately, as well as with fraud.

This case is unusual, for two reasons.

One is that the criminal activity was discovered by the grandmother herself. The story says that she noticed the missing money when she "regained capacity". I don't know the full facts of her incapacity but apparently it was something temporary as she later bounced back from it. In the vast majority of cases, once a senior requires the help provided under an Enduring Power of Attorney, he or she does not regain capacity to once again deal with finances. As a result, an awful lot of people in Mr. Stals' shoes would get away with this.

The second reason is that the grandmother was willing to contact the police. It has been one of the saddest frustrations of my career to see mothers, fathers, and grandparents reduced to poverty by the greedy actions of their kids or grandchildren, while the victims simply refused to involve police or anyone else. They don't want to cause trouble, and in some cases even fear what would happen if they tried to speak out. They don't want the public embarrassment of people seeing how awful their kids really are. They don't want to be disloyal to the kids. Because of this, a lot of theft and fraud goes unreported.

I am really pleased that this case was reported and that the Edmonton Police have an effective unit to respond to seniors' complaints.

Individuals acting under an Enduring Power of Attorney don't always seem to understand that they are not being given money personally. They are only being asked to manage it for someone else. someone who trusts them with their life savings We know that theft and fraud using Powers of Attorney is rampant, and we know it's because people figure they won't ever get caught. Sometimes they won't, but the case of Jeffrey Stals shows that sometimes they will.

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