February 6, 2007
The county has created a task force that will focus on protecting the elderly and disabled from abuse. Within the past several years there has been an increase of crimes targeting this group, but you may be surprised who's behind the scams and abuse.
“Our case managers tend to deal more with abuse by family members and care-givers,” said Musa Ansari, from the Jefferson Area Board for Aging.
The people elderly trust the most are often times responsible for abuse, neglect, or theft.
In just the past five years the number of criminal investigations in Albemarle County of elderly and disabled being exploited has nearly tripled.
“As property values have increased in the county, as we move to more electronic financial record keeping with identity theft, we've seen an increase in complex financial exploitation,” said David Cattell-Gordon, Assistant Director of Albemarle Department of Social Services.
We're not talking a few dollars here or there. Some elderly have been scammed out of their houses, land, and even all of their legal rights.
That's why the county created a task force that will consist of the Commonwealth's Attorney, Albemarle Police, and the Department of Social Services.
“We have to work together between the different departments, because Social Services investigate the social problems, but we don't have the expertise to investigate the legal problems,” explained Tricia Suszynski with the Department of Social Services.
One of the biggest problems facing law enforcers is getting the victim to press charges against someone they thought they could trust.
“They have an emotional conflict because if their relative is prosecuted, then they've sent their own family member to jail,” Ansari said.
Because it is tough for people to come forward and admit they have been targeted, members of this task force ask you to keep an eye out for people you know that could be a victim. You are asked to call 1-888-82-ADULT to file a report.
The county Board of Supervisors plans to recognize this new program at their meeting Wednesday.