Articles Posted in Mortgage and Financial Fraud

It’s unfortunate but true, financial elder abuse is a growing problem.  Unscrupulous thieves conducting consumer fraud schemes may target older individuals because they perceive seniors as more trusting or simply because older people may have accumulated more wealth.  As a San Francisco elder abuse lawyer and a San Francisco financial fraud attorney, Greg Brod is committed to stopping ALL forms of elder abuse whether it targets the person’s physical, mental, or financial well-being.

Examples of Financial Elder Abuse from the State Bar of California

An elder abuse information pamphlet felderfraudrom the State Bar of California (“State Bar”) explains that seniors are often the targets of consumer fraud scams.  According to the pamphlet, Americans lose billions of dollars per year due to telephone and mail scams alone.  E-mail and even in-person scams are also a threat.

cash2As a new year dawns, it occurs to us that our work is a mix of retrospective moments and prospective planning, focusing on difficult moments with the hopes of helping our clients move forward.  We are proud of this work, but enjoy using this blog to help prevent these terrible moments.  In this spirit, we turn today to the problem of financial scams targeting seniors.  Elder abuse, one of our firm’s specialty practice areas, includes physical, emotional, and financial harm.  Although people of any age can be impacted, seniors are disproportionately targeted with financial fraud targeting seniors on the rise.  Today, our San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Rosa financial abuse lawyer looks at some common scams from 2015 with the hopes of helping readers guard their money in 2016.

The Top Ten Scams of 2016 (Plus Two)

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat recently ran an informative article that elaborates on the Better Business Bureau’s (“BBB”) list of the Top Ten Scams of 2015, a list we’d subtitle “That You Should Watch Out for in 2015”:

piggybank.jpgFrom the time we start earning our first regular paychecks, Americans are reminded of the importance of saving for retirement. This can be incredibly hard to do. Sadly, reaching one’s senior years with a comfortable amount of savings is not the end of the story. Financial elder abuse is a growing threat to the economic well-being of older Americans. These crimes are also very personal; they strike at people’s hearts and souls, especially when the perpetrators are trusted caregivers. Our Northern California financial elder abuse law firm wants to empower seniors to fight back.

The Need for Vigilance: Woman Accused of Violating Probation Following Financial Abuse Plea

A short article in last week’s Santa Rosa Press Democrat is a striking reminder of the need for vigilance in the fight against elder abuse. In 2010, Gloria Garcia Bernal pleaded no contest to charges that she stole $6,500 from a senior citizen in her care by forging and cashing checks belonging to the elderly man. Bernal’s probation agreement prohibits her from working with the elderly or other dependent adults. Recently, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office was informed that Bernal (age 43 of Healdsburg) had been using the pseudonym Janeth Narcizo and was working at a private care facility in Windsor. Police arrested Bernal on suspicion of violating her probation and she was placed on a no-bail hold in county jail. Notably, the Windsor facility, located on Birdie Road, appears to be under the same ownership as the facility Bernal worked for at the time of her initial arrest.

We’ve been talking a lot recently about the problem of Medicare fraud, schemes that essentially steal money from the government and everyone who has any interaction with our nation’s healthcare system (i.e. everyone). In addition to working on these cases, Attorney Brod helps individual victims of fraud and targeted groups, including serving as a Northern California financial elder abuse lawyer. These cases are serious and becoming ever more common. Combatting financial elder abuse requires both the criminal and civil law systems and, much like health care fraud, begins with people coming forward to report misdeeds.

Sentence Handed Down in Financial Abuse Case

cash.jpgThis week, California’s Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and the District Attorney from Sonoma County, Jill Ravitch, announced the sentencing of Aldo Joseph Baccala on elder abuse, securities fraud, and grand theft charges. As detailed in the press release carried by, Baccala used his Petaluma-based realty company to solicit money from investors in a number of ventures in both California and elsewhere, promising monthly returns at a rate of 12% annually. Despite soliciting investments over a four year period and issuing notes allegedly secured with real property, Baccala did not actually own any of the facilities and was unable to provide any returns to the investors. Instead, he used the “investor’s” money for his own unsuccessful stock market investments. Many of those who invested with Baccala were elderly individuals who had known both Baccala and his family for a long period. Over time, Baccala’s company lost more than $7 million and had nearly $17 million in outstanding promissory notes.

Financially savvy individuals set aside money during their working years so that they can enjoy a secure retirement, making short-term sacrifices for long-term security. Some people plan for specific dreams such as having the ability to travel, pursue hobbies, or simply spoil their grandchildren rotten! Unfortunately, the growing epidemic of financial elder abuse threatens these dreams and can even endanger a target’s day-to-day financial security. As an Oakland elder abuse law firm, we believe that awareness is key to helping seniors avoid falling prey to these schemes. When abuse does occur, we urge both victims and their families to seek legal counsel to help them recover lost monies and regain financial security.

Police: Oakland Trio Stole $250,000 from Older Piedmont Couple

cash2.jpgAccording to The Oakland Tribune, investigators believe that an Oakland trio targeted an elderly Piedmont couple, allegedly stealing over $250,000 during a two-year time period. On Monday, police arrested 53 year-old Penielli Tutuila, his 49 year-old wife Favita, and their 29 year-old daughter Sophia at their Oakland home. All three family members were booked on suspicion of elder abuse, conspiracy, and forgery charges.

Today, we call attention to a scam aimed at the elderly in our region and remind our readers of the need to be vigilant and exercise caution when dealing with home improvements. Further, remember that a basic con or “simple” financial scam may be used to create a doorway to allow more extensive financial abuse that can target an individual’s life savings.

cash.jpg Scam Targets Older Homeowners in Newark, CA

According to The Oakland Tribune, police are warning of a scam targeting elderly homeowners in Newark. In one instance, a female suspect called an elderly target and attempted to arrange an appointment to inspect his home’s furnace and air conditioning systems. The caller suggested they would be in the area and were offering a “half price” deal of $60 for the services. During the call, the suspect attempted to gain the man’s trust, making small talk while trying to elicit the man’s address (despite a prior comment about being in the area!) and pressuring him to sign up for the purported deal.

When we report on the issue of elder abuse, including financial elder abuse, it is usually because of a recent headline that discusses a new wrinkle, a new twist on how an elderly person was mistreated and/or defrauded. Today, our San Francisco/Sacramento elder abuse law firm has promising news that may help victims bring suit against the perpetrators of financial fraud.

Law Shifts Victim’s Attorney’s Fees to Defendant in Certain Successful Financial Abuse Cases

piggybank.jpg Just a few weeks ago, as detailed in the Sacramento Business Journal, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 381into law. The bill permits courts to award attorney’s fees and costs to seniors in cases where someone abused a power of attorney in bad faith to facilitate financial abuse against the victim. This is helpful because, although the law does provide double damages in such cases, some victims worry about affording the lawsuit itself and knowing they can get the attorney’s fees and paid if they win is a relief (Side Note: Please call us if you are worried about fees in any subject matter. We can often use a contingent fee or create a payment plan to help you.).

Readers of our Oakland elder abuse law firm’s blog know that elder abuse comes in many forms. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association (“NAPSA”) , a national non-profit that allows Adult Protective Services representatives to partner with their counterparts in other states, one in nine seniors reports suffering abuse, neglect, or exploitation in the past year. Financial elder abuse is a growing threat. NAPSA suggests one in 20 seniors experienced some form of perceived financial exploitation in the recent past.

Investigators: Defendants Befriended Widower, Lived Lavishly on Money Stolen from Him

cash.jpgBerkeleyside, an independent online news source, reports that Alameda County district attorney’s office has charged a Vallejo couple with financial elder abuse, suggesting they took about $842,000 from a recent widower. Defendants Adriana Segurado Rodezno and Jeffrey Edward Alexander have been held in a Santa Rita jail since their arrest on May 28. Bail is set at $250,000 each. A pre-trial hearing on charges of theft from an elder or dependent adult is set for June 10 in Oakland.

We’ve written a lot about financial elder abuse in recent weeks, from the abuse allegedly perpetrated by Judge Seeman (a case particularly disheartening to those of us in the legal field who rely on the honor and wisdom of judges) to a general overview of common abuse schemes. It may seem like we are talking too much about this issue, but the sad truth is that the world is not talking enough about elder abuse in all its forms. Our Northern California elder abuse law firm understands that elder abuse is a general problem that occurs in specific instances, involving distinct individuals and unique circumstances. One such case is the complex scheme to defraud an elderly woman that has finally resulted in a jail sentence for one of the perpetrators, a sentence that comes only after the woman was scammed out of $45,000. The case stands out for the fraud’s two-part format: an initial scheme followed by a continued fraud involving scammers posing as investigatory officials.

Woman Sentenced in Complex Financial Fraud Scheme Targeting Elderly Woman

Last week, as reported by Mercury News, a California court sentenced 43 year-old Jacqueline Dove of Santa Clara to nine months in jail for her role in defrauding an elderly woman out of much of her life savings. The sentence follows Dove’s guilty plea to the felony-level charge of theft by false pretense. She was also ordered to pay back the $45,000 that had been taken from the victim.

After every tragedy we hear about fake charities taking advantage of people’s generosity (here’s one recent example, including tips on avoiding scam charities). In addition to preying on people’s desire to help following a tragedy, scammers also use fake charities to target seniors. Our San Francisco elder abuse law firm believes it is important to be aware of the common forms of financial abuse targeting seniors, in order to prevent future abuse and help victims recognize when a fraud has occurred.

piggybank.jpgAccording to the National Council on Aging (“NCOA”), financial scams targeting seniors are growing more prevalent and are becoming “the crime of the 21st century.” Perpetrators assume seniors have accumulated savings and the crimes are considered “low-risk” because they often go unreported (note: more than 90% of all elder abuses cases are perpetrated by family members). However, the scams can devastate victims who are often unable to recoup their losses.

The NCOA provides a “Top Ten” list of the most common financial scams targeting seniors:

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