Ken was asked by friends of Martha, an elder living in the community, to intervene and protect her from scammers and others who were bleeding her dry. Martha lived in her own house. She was an affable woman in her 70’s, a former accountant who “presented well” when talking with others. It only took a ten-minute conversation, though, to begin to see Martha’s cognitive deficits.
Martha was an independent woman. She had taken care of herself all her life and she knew how to handle money. And she thought she knew an opportunity when she saw it. A group from overseas had asked her to help with the transfer of monies into this country. They only needed her help in covering certain taxes and fees before the transaction could be completed, but then she would receive seven million dollars – a percentage of the hundreds of millions involved in the transaction. She was sure it was legal and on the up-and-up. She wired the first $30,000 to them and then there was a snag, so they needed another $30,000. But that was okay! She had personally spoken with the man who would be hand-delivering to her the check for seven million dollars.
The staff at the bank where Martha did her banking were concerned she was making such large wire transfers, but what were they to do? It was her money, after all. They politely asked about the nature of these transfers, but Martha always came across as knowing her own business well. By the way, they told Ken when he made inquiries, they were also concerned about the smaller withdrawals Martha was making in cash – often around $3,000. She was usually accompanied by a young man when she made these withdrawals. She described him as “the nice young man who’s been helping me with the yard.”
Unfortunately, Ken could not get through to Martha that she was being financially exploited. She was certain that the seven million dollar check was going to arrive any day. Ken contacted the local Adult Protective Services only to realize that the agency was too overwhelmed to reasonably expect immediate action to stop the exploitation.
Inspired by his experience with Grace, Ken took matters into his own hands and pursued an emergency guardianship over Martha. She wasn’t happy, but the guardianship was granted and he took control of her assets, unfortunately, not before she was robbed of over $200,000.