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"Consumer Guide for Marylanders", 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.

Protecting Seniors
The 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.

Financial Exploitation
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 institution participates in Project SAFE. The Attorney General also obtained new legislation that allows for the disclosure of a consumer's financial 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 by 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 ordered to pay restitution of the amounts stolen.

And, 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.

Telemarketing Fraud/Sweepstakes
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.

Since 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 that purchasing magazine subscriptions and products would increase their chances of winning. Eligible Maryland consumers received their portion of over $1.3 million in restitution that resulted from settlements of those suits.

Investment Scams
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 loans.

Medicaid Fraud/Physical Abuse
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.

In 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.

End-of-Life Care
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.

Law 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 care.

Maryland 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.

Also, see our web pages on Nursing Homes: What You Should Know.

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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