Man accused of tricking woman out of money still on the run; experts say keep an eye on the elderly

How to protect elderly family members' finances

DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (WAFB) - The Denham Springs Police Department says cameras caught Jacob Tom while he was trying to cash a check written by a lady sitting next to him in the passenger seat of his truck some weeks ago.

“We believe that he told her that she owed him money for work that he did in her house, which was untrue,” said Amber Fairburn with the Denham Springs Police Department.

Fairburn also says the victim suffers from Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Thankfully, police say the bank teller recognized the victim and thought something was wrong. That’s when the teller told them to come inside to finish the transaction. Fairburn says a family member just so happened to be in the bank at the time.

“When they pulled out of the line, her family member was able to get her out of the vehicle and he drove off,” Fairburn said.

Police say Tom is still on the run.

It’s cases like these that sometimes find themselves being investigated by the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs. Ebony Thomas-Phillips, director of Elderly Protective Services, says her office investigates abuse and neglect of anyone over the age of 60 who is unable to physically or mentally protect themselves.

“If you suspect that an elder is being abused or neglected or financially exploited, we have an obligation to report that so that we can attempt to stop the abuse from occurring and remedy the issue at hand,” said Thomas-Phillips.

The Office of Elderly Affairs trains businesses on the signs of abuse to look for when interacting with senior citizens, including financial exploitation and extortion.

“If they all of sudden start to make withdrawals, large withdrawals, things that are not customary of that particular customer,” Thomas- Phillip said. She adds if someone walks into a bank and looks uneasy, that may be a cue to ask additional questions.

Overdrafts in accounts that normally have funds are also red flags, experts say.

The Office of Elderly Affairs also trains businesses and investigates cases dealing with physical abuse, sexual abuse, caregiver neglect, self-neglect, and abandonment.

Thomas-Phillip says, as a community, we must protect our elders.

“They only need to suspect that abuse and neglect are occurring,” she said.

At that point, she says they will conduct investigations into allegations. To report a possible case of elder abuse in Louisiana, call 833-577-6532.

Copyright 2019 WAFB. All rights reserved.