Getting a victim's money back after her identity is stolen
How to Deal With Caregiver Theft: Page 3
Many victims believe that reporting the crime means the local authorities will be able to get all their money or assets returned to them. Although this is possible in some cases, it often is not, nor is it the job of local police or county prosecutors to "undo" the crime committed against the older adult. There are agencies, however, that will assist you and the person you're caring for in doing this. They'll have names such as Senior Adult Legal Assistance. Adult Protective Services can also aid in this process. If this fails, contact your county Legal Aid Society for help.
In many cases, the perpetrator will have already spent the stolen money, making it impossible to return it to the victim. But some simple scams can be more easily reversed. For instance, one way scam artists take control of an older adult's car is to go to the local Division of Motor Vehicles and claim a family member died and gave them the car, but no one can find the title. The unsuspecting clerk then issues a new title in the thief's name. In this instance, the problem can be corrected by a court order mandating that the department reissue the title in the original owner's name.
Likewise, if funds are stolen via credit card or through forged checks, often a bank or credit card agency will refund the money. This only applies to cases of identity theft, however, not to scams. If an older adult falls prey to such a scheme, call her bank as soon as you've made a police report to find out the bank's policy on such fraud.
Older adults can sometimes be compensated if they miss work, need psychological counseling, or have medical expenses related to the crime committed against them. In California, for example, these expenses can be reimbursed through a special victims' compensation fund. Ask your local county prosecutor if this is available where you live.
Elder fraud remains an underreported crime, Connors says. "It still isn't recognized as much as it should be. We need people to report these crimes, and we need people to talk about it among their friends so they can avoid the same difficulties." One of the most valuable aspects in reporting a crime, Connors says, is that it helps to prevent another older adult from falling victim to the same scam, or even the same perpetrator.