‘She was homeless and I was alone:’ I befriended a homeless woman who moved in with me – and she stole $40,000 from me

Dear Quentin,

I was disabled for about 10 years. During this time, a woman befriended me and asked to move in. I didn’t need any help, but she was homeless and I was alone. We agreed that she would pay half the rent and utilities, which she did for a year.

She would “cash” my credit cards and ATM and tell me that she had placed those funds in her bank for me. She would collect other amounts of money and do the same. I also paid the entire food bill for two. All the while, I was on heavy medication.

I knew I was being taken advantage of, but she said if I stopped paying her half the bills, I wouldn’t get anything. So it went on like that for 10 years. She kept track of the amounts and told me the balances, but I was never allowed to withdraw any.

“She said the money was in an account with her daughter who was investing it for me.”

She had mentally abused me to the point that I went to the hospital to rest. I was no longer weakened and I was thinking clearly. I had given him $40,000 or more. I firmly asked for $10,000 to be able to buy a car. She laughed and said, “You really didn’t think you’d get that back.”

She said the funds are in her daughter’s name. Aside from cash advances, there is no paper trail. There was physical abuse if I complained. It’s embarrassing to be fooled. She told me no one will believe me because I saw a psychiatrist.

I have been abused and defrauded in my home for a long time, and there are no witnesses. All I have are tape recordings where she sneers and says she lied to me about it. And repeated: “No one will believe me.” Will they have any value for a lawyer?

Feeling of hopelessness

Dear feeling,

You were alone and vulnerable, and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. The most despicable trick played by an aggressor is to convince the victim that it is his fault. It’s not. I believe in you and above all you have regained confidence in yourself.

She’s a scammer. You are a survivor. You invited this woman to your home to help you, and instead she used your savings and forced you to hand over your money. You need to seek outside help. Writing this letter was the first step.

Contact your local branch of adult protective services, and tell them that you are being abused and you need this woman out of your house. Everyone has the right to feel safe, especially in their own home. You are no exception. Take one step at a time.

“The most despicable trick played by an aggressor is to convince the victim that it is his fault.”

the National Center on Elder Abusea government agency affiliated with the US Administration on Aging, and the nonprofit National Association of Adult Protective Services will help you with the steps you need to take to report this case.

Financial abuse of the elderly often occurs with the apparent tacit cooperation of the victim, and this can be the most painful aspect to come to terms with. But it is also an integral part of coercive control. The police, your doctor and adult protective services are just a phone call away.

“Elderly financial abuse often occurs with the apparent tacit cooperation of the victim.”

It’s hard to know if your audio recordings will be useful in a court case. Most states are registration states of a game, which means that you only need the authorization of one person present to make a recording. A lawyer can give you the advice you need.

Elder abuse affects about 5 million Americans each year, according to the National Council on Aging, and several agencies say the number of cases is growing and is underreported. You are part of a community of brave, strong and valuable survivors.

A third of abused older adults suffer from depression, anxiety or trauma, according to the New York City Department for Aging, preventing them from taking the necessary steps to break the cycle. Know that you are not alone.

You may or may not get your money back. As you say, it can be difficult without a paper trail, especially if the money has been hidden and/or spent. Before doing anything, inform the authorities. They will help you make sure you are safe in your own home.

Yoyou can email The Moneyist for any financial and ethical questions related to the coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

To verify the private Facebook Moneyist group, where we seek answers to life’s trickiest money problems. Readers write to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Ask your questions, tell me what you want to know more or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

The Moneyist regrets not being able to answer the questions individually.

More Quentin Fottrell:

• I am 60 years old and a single mother. My 17 year old daughter has an intellectual disability. How can I make sure she is taken care of after I leave?
• “We have an absolutely wonderful relationship”: my boyfriend who lives with me gives me what he paid in rent. Should I give him a stake in my house?
• “I feel slighted”: my husband of 10 years stopped paying his salary into our joint account and asked me to pay $900 for our rent

Comments are closed.