Consumer Guide for Seniors", a
36-page booklet on avoiding scams and fraud. Read
it online (PDF) or call to request a free copy by mail by
calling (410) 576-6500 or toll-free 1-888-743-0023.
largest population in the United States consists of people over
the age of 65. Sadly, many seniors and "vulnerable adults"
are targets of crimes ranging from telemarketing fraud to patient
abuse in nursing home facilities. Accordingly, Attorney General
the Attorney General created an Elder Abuse Initiative to curb the number of crimes
against vulnerable adults.
In October 2000, the Attorney General launched Project SAFE (Stop
Adult Financial Exploitation), a public-private partnership which
provides for the
training of personnel in financial institutions to detect and report
cases of financial exploitation. Ask if your bank or financial
participates in Project SAFE. The Attorney General also obtained
new legislation that allows for the disclosure of a consumer's
information when a potential crime is suspected. Since that time,
the Office has vigorously prosecuted reported instances of financial
exploitation of vulnerable adults for the past several years. To
learn more about protecting your money, click here.
Project SAFE Model Employee Reference Manual for Banks and Credit Unions.
Forexample, in its first elder fraud case, the Attorney General's
Criminal Investigations Division filed theft charges in Baltimore
City against Wanda Wilson, a licensed social worker employed
Catholic Charities, arising out of her embezzlement of over $14,000
from eight vulnerable adult clients. The Attorney General's office won a conviction
against Wilson, who was sentenced to nine months in prison and
to pay restitution of the amounts stolen.
Dorothy Moore Williams, of Baltimore County, pleaded guilty to stealing
over $73,000 from three individuals and two credit card companies,
while serving as a caseworker for Catholic Charities.
Beginning in 1998, the Attorney General enlisted the help of 500
senior volunteers across Maryland, who saved their mail solicitations
and logged all telephone solicitations for one month, in an effort
to crack down on mail and telemarketing fraud. The number one issue
identified by participants in the "sting" as a major area
of concern was the misleading language used in sweepstakes solicitations.
To learn how to reduce telemarketing
calls and unsolicited mailings, click here.
then, the Attorney General sued sweepstakes companies, American
Express, Publishers Clearing House, Time and U.S. Purchasing Exchange,
on behalf of thousands of Marylanders who were led to believe
purchasing magazine subscriptions and products would increase their
chances of winning. Eligible Maryland consumers received their
of over $1.3 million in restitution that resulted from settlements
of those suits.
The Attorney General's Securities Division permanently barred Payday
Today USA.Com, Inc. and David L'Hoir from the securities and investment
advisory business, for selling to an elderly investor a promissory
note to fund the company's Internet sales of advance-fee, high interest
The Medicaid Fraud Control Division of the Office of the Attorney
General prosecutes dozens of cases of patient abuse in nursing home
facilities each year, ranging from sexual assaults to cases of neglect
resulting in injury and even death. The Office also provides education
and training to help family members and providers spot abuse when
it is occurring.
one such case, Brenda Pointer, a former geriatric nursing assistant
pled guilty to two counts of abusing vulnerable nursing home residents.
Pointer was sentenced to 18 months in jail, with all but 40 days
suspended, and placed on probation for two years. Pointer, 39, was
employed to provide care for residents at a nursing home in Baltimore.
In the early morning hours of November 12, 2000, another nursing
assistant heard the sounds of slapping and hitting outside an elderly
woman's room. When the witness entered the room, he saw Pointer
striking an 87-year-old woman who suffers from dementia. Pointer
struck the woman in the chest and stomach with her fist. The witness
managed to separate Pointer from the victim, at which time Pointer
left the room. Approximately 15 minutes later, the same witness
came upon Pointer in the room of a 78-year-old man who also suffered
from dementia. Pointer was trying to strike the resident in the
face but the resident had his hands up in front of himself trying
to deflect the blows. When the resident turned to see the witness
enter the room, Pointer struck the resident in the eye and then
in his upper body. The resident sustained a black eye and was taken
to the hospital due to his injury.
The Attorney General has made it a priority to find creative ways
in which his Office can help improve the care of people with serious
illness. The Attorney General's Office wants to identify, and help reduce, any
barriers to quality care in Maryland's legal and policy environment.
Thus, he announced in April 2001 the first policy study by an Attorney
General of the legal and policy issues related to Alzheimer's Disease.
Because people with fatal illnesses should be able to control the
use of high-tech medicine in accordance with their own values,
the Attorney General drafted and promoted passage of a bill to
improve Maryland's program for out-of-hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate
Orders and led a recent and successful effort to make Maryland's
standard advance directive form much more user-friendly.
alone, however, does not assure proper care. Supplementing our legislative
efforts, the Office of the Attorney General also helped to launch
a program that will bring training in quality end-of-life care to
doctors in every Maryland hospital. Finally, the lessons learned
and efforts made in Maryland can have an impact nationally. So,
for example, the Attorney General's Office has staffed the first initiative on
behalf of the National Association of Attorneys General on end-of-life
law tries to help people who want to plan for medical situations
when they might not be able to speak for themselves. The law also
encourages health care professionals to give the best possible care
to people with advanced illness. For information about Maryland's
Health Care Decisions Act, advance directives, and legal opinions
and letters of advice on matters affecting the care of patients
with advanced illness, click here.
see our web pages on Nursing Homes:
What You Should Know.