ELDER FRAUD FORUM SET FOR STEUBENVILLE
October 17, 2019 | Steubenville, Ohio | SPF Team Reporting
Again facing the spotlight of elder-fraud in his state, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is sending his best and brightest to address the problem in a public forum in Steubenville.
Titled “Protecting the Unprotected” the forum will be held from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at the Towers Building, 500 Market Street, in the 2nd floor conference room.
Ohio has battled elder-fraud for years, and the state is again feeling the heat due to a racketeering case brought by Dr. Mehdi Saghafi from Cleveland. Racketeering is a crime at both state and federal levels and can be spotted when the those who are billing to“fix” or “manage” a problem are the same people that caused the problem in the first place.
Dr. Saghafi’s claim is that his family was the victim of financial exploitation when his 80-year old wife was deemed “incapacitated” and trapped in the legal maze of a court-ordered guardianship. The family claims that once “captured” in the court system, attorneys and accountants targeted the family’s assets and billed the family hundreds of thousands of dollars for the ”care” of a woman who suffered from dementia.
The Saghafi’s case wasn’t the only fraud problem rising from Ohio’s probate courts this year: In June, Ohio Judge Diane Vettori-Caraballo pled guilty to charges stemming from an FBI investigation of her theft of over $100,000 from an estate for which she was the administrator. For more on that story, go here: https://wp.me/p9585T-gD
But Ohio is not alone in the fight against fraud.
Weeks ago, Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel was forced to fire four of state’s probate-administrators after complaints that the attorneys had used their court power as guardians and probate executors to drain the assets of the estates they controlled.
See this link for Michigan details: https://wp.me/p9585T-
Over the summer, Florida’s guardianship system made national headlines when court-appointed guardian Rebecca Fierle was accused of causing the death of a man who was under her care by issuing a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) order—without informing or getting the consent of the man who was “not to be resuscitated.” The case has since expanded from fraud and wrongful death into a larger Medicare fraud investigation.
For more on the Florida guardianship fraud story, go here: https://wp.me/p9585T-gt
Yost’s Steubenville event features nearly a dozen speakers including four with state-wide experience in elder fraud investigation and prosecution: Sylvia Pla-Raith; Kevin Barbeau, CFE; Michael Kaizar, CPA/CFE; Kelly Igoe, JD. The session gives Ohio residents a place to meet and learn about the “red flags of fraud” from Ohio’s experts in elder financial fraud.
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) calls fraud “theft by deceit,” and “theft with a smile” where the victims often know or are even related to the fraudster. The ACFE is based in Austin, Texas and has over 80,000 members trained to fight fraud. Fraud is rooted in deception and confusion, and so if a person has diminished cognition, they can be easy targets for financial predators and cons. Both Kevin Barbeau and Michael Kaizar are Ohio-based Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE) trained by the ACFE, who will attend the Steubenville event.
Fraud is prosecuted every day across the USA. In some cases of elder-fraud, the complex language and process of the courts are used to trap elderly victims into a confusing legal battle for which they are billed by the people who goaded them into the court fight. But both state and federal law offers extra protections for people who are incapacitated and/or elderly: In cases where the “mark” or victim is an incapacitated and/or elderly person, the issues can expand from simple fraud and theft into a RICO and civil rights cases.
“Many people don’t know that there are thousands of people in guardianships in Ohio,” says Rosanna Miller (shown left with her father, Clair) who is a member of the advocacy group “Ohio Coalition to END Probate Corruption” (OCEPC).
In fact, a 2015 Columbus Dispatch series by writer Louis Sullivan detailed that there are 65,000 people in Ohio who live subject to the decisions of a guardian that is placed in oversight over their life—including their finances.
The Ohio coalition is just one of nearly a dozen grass-roots groups across the United States who fight guardianship and elder financial abuse including CEAR, NASGA, KasemCares, and AAAPG.
New federal elder-care legislation (U.S. H.R. 4174) details that there are approximately 1.3 million elderly adults in the United States who have been ruled “incompetent” and their lives controlled in a guardianship. It is expected that “the greatest generation” will transfer more than one trillion dollars in wealth to their heirs in the next decade, and people who are elders or who are in guardianships can be easy targets for fraud.
The Steubenville forum is designed to help people learn how to detect fraud from some of Ohio’s most experienced people in the area of elder fraud prevention and prosecution. The speakers will detail the warning signs of elder financial exploitation and financial crimes and give attendees tools and reporting steps they need to help avoid being the target of financial exploitation.
In addition to the state-level experts, there will be local Jefferson-County speakers as well, including Sheriff Fred J. Abdalla; Jefferson County Attorney Jane Hanlin; Marie Holt, Ericka Kirkpatrick and probate Judge Joseph Corabi. The goal is to give people in the Steubenville region a local contact when they need expertise in the elder financial fraud area.
Q&A sessions are expected, time permitting.
The event is free but the room holds only 125 people. Please use this link to pre-register:
www.stopprobatefraud.com is a news and information resource for those interested in spotting, stopping and recovering from fraud in probate, trusts, estates and guardianships. The team can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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