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Elderly Theft: Robbing the Relatives - Tonight

Elderly Theft: Robbing the Relatives is on ITV at 7.30pm Photo: ITV/Tonight

Tonight can exclusively reveal, for the first time, there have been 116,559 suspected ‘elderly fraud’ crimes in the last three years - according to Action Fraud.

“We know that criminals are cruelly targeting those over the age of 65,” said Detective Inspector Chris Felton of the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

He added: “The consequences of being defrauded for older people are often harsh and long-lasting."

The show found there were also 91,820 ‘financial abuse’ crime reports to the police, where the victim was aged over 65, for 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17.

Worryingly, these figures show, an increasing number of thieves are relatives.

“I feel terrible,” said 97-year-old Beatrice Cooper, after she found out her daughter and granddaughter had stolen her £23,000 life-savings.

“I never thought that they would do such a thing,” she told other relatives in her home in South Wales.

Beatrice, 97, loved her family. But her 'spirit was broken' when she had money stolen from her by relatives

Christine Vaughan, 73, stole twenty thousand pounds, and 49-year-old Adele Mansell took another three thousand - spending it on home improvements, holidays, clothes - and painkillers.

“I hate them for what they done to my nan,” said Beatrice’s other granddaughter Sharn Ellis.

"Her spirit was broken."

– Sharn Ellis

Speaking to Tonight’s Fiona Foster for the first time, Sharn’s sister Angela Evans describes the moment the crime was revealed.

“I can see her little face, she was more upset over me crying,” sobbed Angela.

Angela Evans and Sharn Ellis, Beatrice's granddaughters Credit: ITV/Tonight

It emerged a bank card, that the pensioner knew nothing about, and stolen cheques from her handbag, were being used to rob her account.

Angela, challenged greedy cousin AdeIe: “I said I know you are addicted to painkillers.

“What about all this other money, spending, on a holiday and used my grandmother’s card to pay for it.

“She was buying from maternity shops because she’s large in size.”

Vaughan and Mansell maintained their innocence right up until Beatrice’s death last year - they later pleaded guilty and were jailed in May.

Action on Elder Abuse has said the majority of its financial abuse calls relate to relatives as suspects.

“The people who steal the most from older people are their own loved ones,” said the charity’s Chief Executive, Gary Fitzgerald.

“Their own families, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews and grandchildren,” he added.

Gary Fitzgerald, CEO of Action on Elder Abuse Credit: ITV/Tonight

The programme also looks at the legal systems in place in Britain to protect our vulnerable older people, like, ‘Power of Attorney’.

This legal document allows someone to make decisions about your finances or welfare, particularly if you cannot make those decisions anymore.

Unemployed Richard Willis, 65, committed fraud and took £600,000 from his dementia suffering mother.

“What he actually did was, systematically strip her bank accounts of all her money and while she was in a care home, he then, sold her property from under her."

– Wayne Preece, Detective Inspector, Northamptonshire Police

As attorney, he was supposed to look after his mother’s finances, but in a gross act of betrayal sold her retirement apartment, leaving her in a care-home with just two sets of clothes to her name.

Caroline Bielanska, from Solicitors for the Elderly, has written extensively on the pros and cons of LPAs.

“They may well feel that this is somehow compensation for all the hassle that’s involved in being an attorney,” she said.

“They are either unaware that they can’t make large gifts to themselves, or they will justify why they are doing so.

They may feel, well, I am going to get this eventually, mum doesn't need the money now, but I do.”

Caroline Bielanska, Solicitors for the Elderly Credit: ITV/Tonight

“We’ve had a good life together haven’t we Bay?” said 98-year-old Lee Proctor, an ex-school teacher.

“Yes we have.” said her younger husband 88-year-old Bay Proctor, a former exploration geophysicist.

The Kent couple who have known each other 60 years appointed their son Seth Proctor, 54, as their power of attorney, along with their other son Rob Proctor.

“I had taken very much a back seat,” said Rob.

“I hadn’t received all the information about the accounts, my half brother [Seth] wanted very much to be in control.”

Bay and Lee needed to be transferred into full-time residential care.

Lee and Bay Proctor had £150,000 stolen from them by their son, Seth Credit: ITV/Tonight

Seth grumbled to a national newspaper about having to sell his parents’ house and three cottages to pay for their private care.

“This leads to the only avenue available, selling property once the cash runs out, so providing the Exchequer with useful income via VAT on fees plus stamp duty and capital gains tax on the sale,” he said in 2012.

He netted more than £400,000 from the sale and used some of it on care fees, but he pumped the rest into a failed cafe, called ‘The Intolerant Wife’.

Seth stole £125,000 leaving his parents in debt for the first time ever.

“The care home hadn’t been paid,’ said Rob Proctor.

“Both Bay and Lee have reacted with enormous dignity, stoicism and without any vindictiveness.

“They have suffered real hardship and they wouldn’t want that to happen to anybody else.”

The state now pays for the remainder of their care fees.

Rob Proctor Credit: ITV/Tonight

Seth Proctor, 54, was convicted in May after pleading guilty, and received a suspended sentence.

The majority of attorneys do a good job, but this year there have been 1,266 ‘safeguarding referral’ investigations in England and Wales - with a fifth, 272 ending up in the Court of Protection.

A Power of Attorney system exists across the UK.

In England and Wales the Lasting Power Attorney system is more common, with more than 2.6 million registered.

It is slightly different in Northern Ireland where they use the older Enduring Powers of Attorney, which can only be used when someone lacks mental capacity.

The City of London Police urges those over 65 to look out for the tell-tale signs and if you believe you or someone you care for has been a victim of fraud, please contact Action Fraud online at: www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

If you have any concerns that someone is misusing an LPA you should report any suspicion of abuse immediately to OPG.

  • Elderly Theft: Robbing the Relatives will be broadcast on ITV on Thursday 30th November at 7:30pm

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