A 2007 story in California's Contra Costa Times
on the California Power of Attorney Act and the ripoff of the elderly using powers of attorney begins as follows:
- AN OAKLAND WOMAN steals $200,000 from her sick 73-year-old mother's bank account. She blows most of it at Cache Creek Casino. Her life savings gone, the senior now has to get by on Social Security.
- An East Palo Alto woman is accused of taking out a $200,000 loan on her disabled 92-year-old grandmother's house without her permission. According to San Mateo County prosecutors, she buys herself a champagne-colored Hummer and leaves her disabled grandmother alone for days in a house full of rats.
- A Stockton woman is hired to take care of a 92-year-old former elementary school principal. She steals more than $100,000 from the elderly woman, spending $12,000 on five decorative gates for her own home.
- All of these cases have one thing in common: The weapon used to commit the crime, or alleged crime, was a perfectly legal document called a power of attorney.
As I mentioned in one of yesterday's posts, a hearing in the Oregon House Judiciary Committee is scheduled for tomorrow in which advocates for the banking industry will be attempting to push through a proposed bill, based on a model uniform act (Uniform Power of Attorney Act) that, from the standpoint of the victim, could very well lead to the legalizing of the use of this weapon when committing these types of crimes in Oregon.
The proposed law reads in a way whereby victims whose houses are sold or encumbered by fraudulent mortgages using a forged power of attorney will NOT be able to void the transaction unless they can prove that the individual handling the transaction had actual knowledge that the POA was forged.
As if it wasn't already difficult for a victim of this type of crime to file a civil lawsuit to undo the effects on their property title of a home equity theft, the propsed law, if passed, will essentially assure the homeowner-victim that recovering his/her home equity by voiding the illegal transaction through civil litigation will be an impossibility. The victimized homeowner may still recover the home, but will be stuck having to pay off the fraudulently obtained mortgage placed on the property by the scammer. While the victim may be entitled to criminal restitution, recovery of the home equity value in this way depends on:
- prosecutors filing a criminal action against the alleged scammer (not always the case),
- prosecutors obtaining a guilty conviction (not always the case) in which restitution is awarded, and
- the now-convicted scammer having the funds to pay the restitution (generally not the case).
Those of you with any interest in curbing the horror stories involving the fraudulent use of powers of attorneys to victimized unwitting homeowners are encouraged to contact the Oregon House Judiciary Committee and tell them how you feel (Jennifer Ranstrom-Smith, Committee Assistant, 503-986-1513 Jennifer.RanstromSmith@state.or.us).
In closing, keep in mind that the proposed bill, while only affecting Oregon, is based on a model uniform act, the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. A successful attempt to sneak this legislation through the Oregon legislature by the banking industry will only encourage industry advocates to do the same in other states.
For the 2007 story in the Contra Costa Times, see Theft of Elder Nation: An editorial series: State needs to revoke "theft license".
This bill to be considered tomorrow by Oregon lawmakers is HB2537; you can obtain a copy via this link.
For yesterday's post, see Banking Industry Advocates Pushing Proposed Bill That Could Encourage More Home Equity Thefts Thru Forged POAs.
Go here for posts on the use of powers of attorney to ripoff the elderly of their home equity.
Go here, Go here, Go here, Go here, Go here, and Go here for other posts related to deed or refinancing scams by forgery, swindle, power of attorney abuse, etc. DeedGammaTheft FinancialAbuseOfElderlyAlpha