|By KAY FATE, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.|
With five words — one, really — Detective
Rikhus retired from the
Rikhus works just 14 hours a week tracking cases of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, "but it could be a full-time position, or at least two part-time positions." His first case took the majority of his time for five solid months.
If you're taking advantage of someone, chances are Rikhus will find you. He admits, however, that "by the time we're involved, 99 percent of the time, the money's gone. It's been spent."
And it's a lot of money: For purposes of this story, we reviewed cases that we've covered just since
The 13 felony cases written about by the Post-Bulletin resulted in a reported loss of
The abuse in each instance came at the hands of a trusted friend, family member, caregiver, or neighbor. The victims were all classified as "vulnerable" as defined by
"Most of them don't understand what's going on," Rikhus said of the victims he's helped — who now number in the double digits.
"Most of my victims are in the 80- to 90-year range," he said. "They worked hard all their lives, lived pretty economically, invested well for retirement. They haven't lived a lavish lifestyle, then …"
Then it's gone, and unlike many other crimes, the state statute regarding financial exploitation doesn't allow the seizure of items purchased with the stolen funds.
"A lot of times, (the perpetrators) buy a lot of toys with this money," Rikhus said. "I'd like
The annual financial loss for victims of elder abuse nationwide was estimated at
Is it abuse?
The financial abuse of a vulnerable adult may take many forms:
— Power of attorney abuse.
— Theft of personal property.
— Draining of bank accounts.
— Deeding of real estate.
— Changing of beneficiary designations on bank accounts and life insurance policies.
— Inflated charges for goods or services provided.
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