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Petition Urges Lawmakers to Protect Older Adults from Financial Exploitation

Advocates are in Olympia today urging lawmakers to protect older adults from financial exploitation. (TheDigitalWay/Pixabay)
Advocates are in Olympia today urging lawmakers to protect older adults from financial exploitation. (TheDigitalWay/Pixabay)
February 14, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Thousands of Washingtonians are calling on state lawmakers to protect older adults from financial exploitation. Advocates delivered nearly 8,000 petitions to lawmakers in every district today, asking them to pass companion bills HB 1153 and SB 5099. The bills would increase the penalties for and make it easier to prosecute people who exploit older adults.

Camano Island resident Amy Lecoq is in Olympia today because her grandmother was scammed out of more than $200,000 over a three-year period. She says her grandmother was exploited by someone who called herself a friend.

"She lost a lot, you know," she said. "She didn't just lose money, but she stole her confidence in herself, she stole parts of her health, she stole her time, she stole her ability to believe she could make good decisions. She didn't just steal her money."

Nearly one in 20 older Americans are financially mistreated by a caregiver, friend, family member or someone else with access to their finances, according to the Department of Justice. Washington state is one of 13 states that still does not have a criminal statute for the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults.

The woman who exploited Lecoq's grandmother eventually was convicted of nine counts of felony theft, although she has appealed the decision. Lecoq's grandmother has received only one restitution check for $11.

"My hope is that by telling her story and supporting these bills and talking to as many people as I can about how these crimes can come about, that maybe somebody else will not become a victim of it," she explained. "Or if they are unfortunate enough to become a victim of it, they will have a different outcome than us."

It often takes years for this kind of theft to be detected because people often are embarrassed or feel ashamed about becoming victims. The companion bills in the Washington state Legislature would double the statute of limitations for the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults from three to six years.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA