On Your Side Alert: New Law Protects Elderly

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There's been a victory in the fight against financial crimes against the elderly. This month, Governor Bob McDonnell signed a bill into law, stiffening the penalties against those trying to take advantage of elderly citizens who can't take care of themselves, it's Virginia Senate Bill 706.

The law targets crooks that steal money from elderly victims who can't make decisions for themselves. Thelma Bland Watson, with Senior Connections says it's encouraging news. "This particular piece of legislation shows that there is heightened awareness of the vulnerabilities that our seniors have. This is an attempt to strengthen the laws we already have," Bland says.

In a statement, the bill's sponsor, Senator Robert Stuart, says, "I am very pleased that we were able to get this bill through the General Assembly this year. As you know, many of us have been working on this for several years. This bill directly goes to the heart of those that would take advantage of incapacitated people, including folks that are elderly and may not understand people's deceptions toward them. Previously, some of these cases fell through the cracks, but now there is a law directly on point and those that would manipulate deceptively anyone with a mental incapacity would be subject to prosecution for larceny."

Senior advocates say while this is a victory, relatives and friends of the elderly need to be on alert for warning signs of financial abuse. "Look at relationships that don't seem quite right. We need to make sure that financial resources are not being used for personal gain. When we see such red flags, we need to report suspected crimes to law enforcement," Watson Bland tells us.

Those found guilty of this crime, could face up to 20-years in prison and have to pay thousands of dollars in fines. This new law also protects others who are incapacitated against financial exploitation.

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