Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

November 30, 2000 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357


Baltimore - In his latest issue of his Consumer's Edge newsletter, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. warns consumers about the problem of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults.

Curran says that vulnerable adults who lack the physical or mental capacity to provide their own daily needs are sometimes preyed upon by caregivers, neighbors and relatives, as well as con artists. For example, an older person whose memory is failing might be befriended by someone who promises to help with money matters, but who really is taking money from him or her. Financial exploiters have been known to forge signatures, cash checks that should have been deposited, have the victim establish a joint bank account and then take large sums of money out of it, or trick the victim into writing multiple checks for the same purpose.

"It's terribly distressing that some people will trick vulnerable adults out of their money," Curran said. "We recommend that people be cautious about to whom they give access to their money."

Attorney General Curran recently unveiled a new initiative called Maryland's Project SAFE (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) which trains bank tellers and personnel to spot and detect potential financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. The Attorney General urges consumers to ask if their bank is participating in the program and adds that people can also reduce the risk of being financially exploited by establishing relationships with an attorney or financial consultant; putting all financial arrangements in writing; and being cautious about assigning power of attorney or establishing joint accounts.

Consumers who would like a copy of this issue of The Consumer's Edge and a related brochure about financial exploitation, Protect Your Money, should call 410-576-6500. Groups interested in receiving a monthly issue should call 410-576-6956.