Expert tells how to spot prevent elder abuse

first_imgWhen an elderly woman who had lived frugally for years to save $500,000 suddenly couldn’t make her rent after giving her son power of attorney, Bellingham police called Vancouver forensics accountant Tiffany Couch to track down what happened to the money.Couch, owner of Vancouver’s Acuity Forensics, has built her company on solving fraud cases for law enforcement, businesses and individual clients. On Thursday, she gave advice about how to spot and prevent financial exploitation of vulnerable adults without her help.“The numbers always tell the story,” Couch said.Couch spoke as part of the Clark County Friends of the Elder Justice Center’s fourth annual elder abuse conference, Building Bridges: Serving and Protecting Vulnerable Adults. The event is intended to educate the public about how to recognize, prevent and stop elder abuse and is geared toward law enforcement, attorneys and others who work with vulnerable adults.Couch said she mostly works for clients who want to uncover fraud in their companies, but she has had an increasing number of clients related to personal financial exploitation, including of vulnerable adults and in divorce cases.A number of external pressures, including unemployment, debt and other economic tolls, may give people an incentive to commit fraud.“We can’t control the pressures,” Couch said. “The only thing we can do is limit an opportunity to commit fraud.”Fraudsters often rationalize their behavior, she said.The son of the elderly woman whose $500,000 vanished later admitted to spending the money to pay off credit card bills, buy a car, send his daughter to private school, make home improvements and purchase other items, Couch said.last_img

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