A comprehensive study of elder financial exploitation in Oregon has been completed. The study of over 400 cases was conducted through the Department of Human Services Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations (OAAPI). It is the first study that paints a full picture of financial abuse in Oregon.
"Financial Exploitation of individuals over the age of 65 and with physical disabilities is the most commonly investigated type of abuse that community adult protective services addresses in Oregon," said Marie Cervantes, Director of OAAPI. "By having all the facts in front of us, we are able to see trends and methods. This will help us to be able to come up with better prevention and education strategies."
Cervantes added that not only is financial abuse common but it often goes hand-in-hand with other types of abuse such as neglect of care, verbal or emotional abuse. "For many of our vulnerable adults that are exploited this can mean years of hard work, money to pay basic living essentials such as food and electricity, and hopes for their future security are gone," she said. "Collectively, the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults deserves our attention."
The study revealed that financial exploitation in Oregon takes many forms, not just money. This includes the theft of medications, jewelry, vehicles, real estate, food stamp benefits, ATM cards and personal property.
Also included in this study are cases in which undue influence was exerted on a victim to alter their estate plan, cases in which their identity was stolen for the purposes of obtaining credit, and cases involving high level, professional, international scams.
The sample for this study consisted of 78% individuals over the age of 65, and 22% individuals between the ages of 18 - 64 with a physical disability.
The oldest victim in the study was 102, with the youngest being 24.
The research showed that the major perpetrators of financial exploitation in Oregon are family members. This includes spouses, children, siblings, and grandchildren. Daughters were slightly more prevalent than sons. Family relationships accounted for 55% of all alleged perpetrators. Beyond family members, the second most common type of alleged perpetrator was acquaintances, followed closely by non-relative caregivers.
The study also examined the frequency at which law enforcement was involved with adult protective services. Valuable forms of evidence were available to investigators regarding individuals who acted in fiduciary capacities and breached their duties.
All of Oregon's counties were represented in this study; however certain counties had disproportionately higher rates of financial exploitation than others (based upon their population). These counties were: Tillamook, Clatsop, Multnomah, Douglas, Coos, Curry, Clackamas, Josephine, Jackson, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Malheur and Columbia.
The results of this study, and particularly the regional data, will be used to identify targeted areas of need throughout the state and to provide training and technical assistance to those areas.