On Tuesday, February 24, the Indianapolis Metro Police and the Greenfield Police used a search warrant to raid the house at 318 South Randolph Street in the Fountain Square neighborhood. Merchandise purchased with fraudulently acquired credit cards was found in the house, including designer jeans, UGG-brand boots, electronics and furniture. Police also found numerous receipts and a ledger that the thieves used to keep track of which names corresponded to which accounts.
Along with this house, police say that credit cards in the elderly victims’ names have been sent to two other addresses in Lawrence and on Indianapolis’s east side. Many of the identities were likely initially stolen by a current or past employee of the nursing home, since employees are the only ones who would be able to gain access to documents containing sensitive information.
These discoveries have led the police to believe that the fraud ring is much larger than they had originally thought. Initially, they were investigating the house based on just a handful of nursing home residents reporting suspicious financial activity, but the list of names and accounts police found numbered in the hundreds, including victims from outside of Indiana. This leads police to suspect that the same person who may have stolen information from the Greenfield nursing home also had access to accounts at other nursing facilities through the parent company’s network. Due to the fact that the case crosses state lines, it may be investigated on the federal level.
Greenfield Police Detective John Cutler told Fox News, “This is the largest identity theft case that I’ve ever worked in my career.”
Financial abuse of the elderly, who are often unable to monitor their own finances and rely on caretakers to do it for them, is a tragically common occurrence. Predators and scammers see elderly people’s reliance on others as a chance to take advantage of them. If you have elderly relatives, here are a few ways you can help them to avoid scams, identity theft and fraud:
- Help them monitor their accounts regularly so that any suspicious activity won’t go unnoticed.
- Make sure their bills are being paid on time. Late bill payments can indicate financial problems, especially if the person is usually meticulous about paying bills on time.
- Get to know their caretakers and anyone else that they begin to spend a lot of time with. Unfortunately, financial abuse of seniors is often targeted, and people become friends with or sign up to take care of seniors specifically so that they can victimize them financially later.
- Help them understand common scams, such as the “grandparent scam”, where scammers make phone calls to elderly people pretending to be their grandchildren asking for money to help in an emergency, and the “sweetheart scam”, where members of dating sites and chat lines pretend to fall in love with elderly people in order to take advantage of their finances.
If you are already doing all of the above suggestions and still don’t feel that your elderly relative’s finances are secure, look into using a credit monitoring service to alert you to certain kinds of suspicious behavior on their accounts.