Category Archives: All Blog Entries

False Facts Empower Financial Abuse

Here is a fine example of how an article by a nationally syndicated columnist can mislead and misdirect the reader.

Scammed by your own family More than half of elder abuse financial cases involve an adult child
By Lew Sichelman Published: Mar 23, 2012 12:01 a.m. ET


“More than half of elder abuse financial cases involve an adult child… About 60% of the financial-abuse cases substantiated by adult protective services involve an adult child. Sons are most likely to rip off their parents or grandparents, the study found, even more so than a paramour, bogus contractor, fly-by-night handyman or shady lender…”    

The author took this information from a 2009 MetLife’s Mature Market Institute report… but in June 2011, MetLife released another national report correcting their mistake – family members are NOT the most common offenders. The author wrote this article later in March, 2012, ignoring the correction.  Although they have been at times, most of my cases did not involve the adult children as the abusers.

“And it is all legal, according the elder abuse authorities in Los Angeles….Unless someone is declared incompetent, they can give away all their money to anybody they want to as long as they have not been declared incompetent….”

This is very misleading for someone reporting financial crimes against their loved ones. Although lack of capacity does have to be proven, an exploitation victim does NOT have to be formally declared incompetent, or under guardianship to be a victim…In fact, over 90% of my cases over 30 years, involved someone who did not have the capacity to give consent reference financial matters, due to short-term memory loss. This was confirmed by expert testimony/medical records, but there was no formal declaration of incompetency and the victim was not under a formal guardianship at the time.

“Loneliness and isolation raise the risk of elder financial abuse, which covers a lot of territory, including theft, misuse of financial instruments such as powers of attorney, investment fraud, home repair schemes and identity theft. The high rate of dementia among seniors makes them a tempting target, especially when they own their homes free and clear and have good credit ratings.”

This quote is spot on!  Thanks for reading and feel free to share.

2016: The Year to Go Long in D.C.

Posted: 01/07/2016 4:20 pm EST Updated: 01/07/2016 4:59 pm EST

senior woman patient lying in bed at hospital ward
The start of the New Year brings the resumption of the 114th Congress and the start of the NFL playoff season, both of which contribute to one idea: “going long.” In football, “going long” down the field moves the ball forward and sometimes scores touchdowns. We should encourage President Obama, Congress, and all the candidates for President to go long on behalf of new proposals and policies to benefit older adults and their families.

It has been said that there is really no good policy without politics. In this presidential and congressional election year, good politics should include being responsive to advancing new ideas to move our aging society productively into the future. It makes good political sense for candidates because the older voter will grow from 16 percent of the electorate in November 2012 to 23 percent in November 2016. In addition, the number of family caregivers in this nation now exceeds 40 million and they too represent an important voting constituency that can influence the outcome of this election.

What would going long include? For the president and congress, it could be building off the bipartisan momentum from late 2015 by passing the Older Americans Act. Candidates for President could call for the reauthorization of the Act so it becomes a political issue as well. A bipartisan bill to renew the Act for three years passed the Senate in July of 2015. President Obama has already supported it at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. The House needs to act to finish the job and pass the Act as well. This legislation benefits older adults with critical community-based services such as nutrition, transportation and senior centers. It also contains the only federal program aimed at helping family caregivers, including grandparents raising grandchildren. The need to help provide education and training to family caregivers has grown exponentially since the last Older Americans Act was passed back in 2006.

On the caregiver front, the House should join the Senate in passing the RAISE Family Caregivers Act. The Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act (S. 1719/H.R. 3099) requires a strategy to be developed that would identify actions that government, communities, providers, employers and others can take to support family caregivers. This would be a first step in going long for caregivers.

To further help caregivers, they should be part of tax reform, which may be a 2016 bill in Congress and certainly a political issue for the future. For every millionaire or special interest who is aided by tax reform we should include an interest that is truly special–the family caregiver, by providing them with a meaningful tax credit for the high out-of-pocket costs associated with caregiving. For Presidential candidates who address tax reform, this should be part of what they propose.

We as a society need to go long on one especially critical issue that we seem to be in political and policy denial about — the need for long-term services and federal policies which promote them. Despite the millions of Americans of all ages who need long-term services and support, we still lack any coherent national policy to provide this. There have been many great ideas and proposals developed in recent years both from outside and inside government. It would be difficult for Congress this year to enact anything comprehensive on long-term services and support, but it is most certainly a compelling campaign issue which has begun to be raised by candidates on both sides. However, it needs to become an issue with a political imperative.

We also need to go long on combating the growing menace of elder abuse in our nation. Congress passed a landmark law called the Elder Justice Act in 2010 but has struggled to fund it properly. We need to go long in this Congress using the new budget agreement and commit at least $50 million for programs to combat elder abuse. This has to be a test on the campaign trail as well. Those candidates who fail to offer ideas or even address this issue should be judged unworthy of an older person’s vote.

We have already seen the big aging issues like Social Security and Medicare raised by Presidential candidates on the campaign trail. The ideas and proposals have run the gamut, but with the first votes in primaries and caucuses ready to be cast in fewer than six weeks, it is time for more specifics on how we address the future of these vital programs. The opportunity is there for candidates to make their mark and go long.

A final important way for candidates for President to go long would be to address the growing issue of ageism in America. Further, in recognition of the changing face of the older population now and in the future, candidates for President should outline their ideas on achieving cultural competency in federal programs and services in the future.

In this unusual year, where many contentious Congressional issues were resolved in the last year, the same opportunity to go long in 2016 is there for the President, the Congress and those who will be in these positions in 2017. Older Americans and their families would certainly benefit from this.

Financial Abuse of the Elderly: A Detective’s Case Files of Exploitation Crimes

Joseph Roubicek. Financial Abuse of the Elderly: A Detective’s Case Files of Exploitation Crimes. Ruby House Publisher. 2008. 161 pages.–7171

Although elderly individuals are often the victims of fraud, there is another type of financial abuse that is more difficult to prosecute. This sometimes shocking book explains how the elderly are often exploited financially and offers some tips to avoiding such exploitation.

Written by Joe Roubicek, a former detective with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department who investigated more than 1,000 cases of exploitation against the elderly, Financial Abuse of the Elderly offers a sobering view of how predators are able to take advantage of elderly individuals. Mr. Roubicek provides examples from actual cases he investigated to illustrate the difficulty in catching these financial abusers.

Roubicek emphasizes the difference between fraud and exploitation. While fraud involves deception, exploitation involves taking advantage of an elderly person’s disability, such as short-term memory loss. Exploiters often convince an elderly victim to give them gifts, and before long a bank account can be emptied. According to Roubicek, such exploitation is difficult to stop because it appears the elderly individual is acting voluntarily.

While Roubicek offers some recommendations, such as trusts and powers of attorney, for protecting yourself or someone you love from being exploited, the book is mainly an eye-opening look at how to recognize financial exploitation in all its heartless forms.

So What is Financial Exploitation?

In a sentence, Florida’s exploitation law (FSS 825.103) states that when someone maliciously takes the property of an “elderly person,” they are committing exploitation. That’s the essence of the law.

But there is also an important requirement: Within this law, an “elderly person” is defined as someone 60 years of age or older who is suffering from the infirmities of aging to the extent that their ability to adequately care for and protect themselves is impaired. The law states that the elderly person must suffer a physical or mental infirmity. Therefore, exploitation is based primarily on infirmities or disabilities and not deception.

This is why exploitation is not fraud and why it can be much more devastating and offensive. Fraud is generally defined as deception that is carried out for the purpose of achieving personal gain while causing injury to another party. Exploitation requires more than that. It requires that the victims suffer disabilities that make them more vulnerable. And when the victim is more vulnerable, the victim impact is far worse.

To compare exploitation to fraud would be like comparing robbery to larceny. If you told a police officer that robbery is the worst type of larceny, he or she would correct you and say that they are two different crimes. Larceny simply means the taking of another’s property, while robbery requires the taking by force or threat. In the same sense, exploitation and fraud are also two different crimes. While scammers focus on things that their victims want with deception, exploiters focus on things victims need through the dependency caused by their infirmities.

So if you’re going to walk away with one thought from my book, make it this,
“Scammers prey on greed while exploiters prey on need.”

If you understand that concept, you’re probably one step ahead of those around you who misunderstand the crime.

Joe Roubicek

Big Mouth Sami

Summary of a case involving a little guy with a big mouth arrested for exploitation of the elderly…and then solicitation to commit murder.

July 2000:

joe-pesciSami Jourdak was a 71-year-old vertically challenged person with an irritating high voice and he sure talked a lot.   The first time we met, he reminded me of some of the small, talky characters played by the actor Joe Pesci, but with white hair. He seemed harmless enough, though, and there was something sad about the guy.

Our paths crossed when he exploited a 94-year-old blind woman named Hillary. She was alert, trusting and courageous in many ways.

At the time, the two recently had met at her church and quickly developed what seemed a mutually beneficial friendship. He would take her out to lunch a few times a week and she would pay. He was tight on money and she loved to get out of her house, so it worked out quite well. It all seemed harmless enough.

But looks were deceiving and Jourdak was a dangerous man. Twelve years earlier he had been arrested and convicted for sexual assault on a child and spent two years in prison for that crime. This apparently harmless old man with the non-stop squeaky voice was a predator.
When they went out to lunch, Jourdak was slipping Hillary’s ATM card from her purse, making withdrawals, then replacing it without her knowing. It was too easy.

But after two weeks and more than $5,000 in withdrawals, Hillary’s home health aide caught Jourdak sneaking the ATM card back into the purse. When the aide approached him about it, he became very threatening and assured her that if she spoke to Hillary, she would regret it.
Instead, the aide went to the police and I became involved.

When I first approached Hillary, she was not only emotionally hurt but also angry that Jourdak had violated her trust. She agreed to wear a “wire,” a secret recording device that all cop-and-crime movies seem to include for some reason. Hillary said she would question him about the money when he came to visit her the following day.

Jourdak arrived right on time expecting to take Hillary to lunch, but instead she confronted him about his theft. My partner and I listened to the conversation from inside an unmarked police car parked in the neighbor’s driveway.

When confronted by Hillary, Jourdak admitted everything, but insisted that he took her money so that no one else could. He claimed that he was only trying to protect her. His defense was lame, we moved in and he was arrested.

I thought that this case had ended, but Jourdak had other ideas…..
He was furious at the home health aide because he suspected that she had tipped off the police. So he wanted her dead, just as he had threatened.
This time, Jourdak was more than all talk.

Jourdak’s cellmate was a “tough guy,” so to speak. He was someone with a violent background related to drugs and weapons violations. So Jourdak approached him about hiring a hit man to kill the home health aide for a few thousand dollars.

Jourdak said that, with the witness out of the way, he could both get revenge and probably beat the charges against him. His cellmate said that he would see what he could do.

Less than two weeks later, after Jourdak had bonded out of jail, he met with a stranger at a diner in Fort Lauderdale. His cellmate indeed had arranged a rendezvous with a hired killer.
The hit man was a big, sleazy-looking middle-aged man who dwarfed Jourdak’s small body. Jourdak spent a full hour with him and wouldn’t stop talking, of course. That was his nature. He said that he wanted the health aide killed and didn’t care how. He also explained that he had been taking Hillary’s ATM card and everything had been going just fine until the aide had butted in and ratted him out to the police.

In the end, Jourdak agreed to pay $3,000, but only after the killing. The hit man said that he wanted the money before the murder. Jourdak agreed and they went their separate ways, planning to meet the next day to exchange the payment.

Jourdak drove home to his apartment, but the hit man drove to the rear parking lot of the diner where the rest of us had been listening from behind tinted windows in unmarked cars. The hit man was actually an ATF agent and I, along with several other detectives and agents, had been monitoring the meeting from the start.

Sami Jourdak simply was a victim of very bad luck.  His cellmate was a tough guy all right, but also a confidential informant for an ATF agent. He had reported Jourdak’s intentions to his agent, who in turn had called me.

Those of us working the case decided that it would be prudent to arrest Jourdak quickly. I found him on that same day in his apartment complex doing his dirty laundry.

I arrested him again, this time for solicitation to commit murder. He cried like a baby when he was loaded into the back seat of a squad car and carried off to jail.

The hit man in this case had been an impostor, yes – but so was Jourdak, and he gave perfect example of how predators who appear completely harmless can be the most dangerous predators of all.

by Joe Roubicek, copyright 2010 Coral Springs