County of Marin Health and Human Services

Marin’s Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST)

Elder abuse, neglect and exploitation occurs in every community, including Marin County. Financial abuse is the diversion or theft of funds belonging to the elderly. This includes funds that are used to pay for basic needs such as housing, food and medical care. It is estimated that only about one in five of these crimes is ever discovered. 

The Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) is a multidisciplinary team of public agency representatives and private professionals from the financial services industry. FAST was formed in 2005 to provide expert forensic assistance in the investigation of complex cases of suspected elder financial abuse. FAST also works to raise public awareness and provide community education through professional training programs. To find out more, watch the short video above highlighting the work of FAST team members.  Anyone interested in becoming a FAST volunteer should contact Tara Clark, HHS Volunteer Coordinator at tclark@marincounty.org for more information. 

Elder Financial Abuse and Exploitation Warning Signs

Source: National Administration on Aging and Marin County Aging and Adult Services

Erratic or unusual banking transactions, or changes in banking patterns:

  • Frequent large withdrawals, including daily maximum currency withdrawals from an ATM;
  • Sudden non-sufficient fund activity;
  • Uncharacteristic nonpayment for services, which may indicate a loss of funds or access to funds;
  • Debit transactions that are inconsistent for the elder;
  • Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money;
  • Closing of CDs or accounts without regard to penalties.

Interactions with customers or caregivers:

  • A caregiver or other individual shows excessive interest in the elder's finances or assets, does not allow the elder to speak for himself, or is reluctant to leave the elder's side during conversations;
  • The elder shows an unusual degree of fear or submissiveness toward a caregiver, or expresses a fear of eviction or nursing home placement if money is not given to a caretaker;
  • The financial institution is unable to speak directly with the elder, despite repeated attempts to contact him or her;
  • A new caretaker, relative, or friend suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of the elder without proper documentation;
  • The customer moves away from existing relationships and toward new associations with other "friends" or strangers;
  • The elderly individual's financial management changes suddenly, such as through a change of power of attorney to a different family member or a new individual;
  • The elderly customer lacks knowledge about his or her financial status, or shows a sudden reluctance to discuss financial matters. 

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