THE BLOG

Who Protects And Serves When The Elderly Are Fleeced?

01/29/2012 06:52 pm ET | Updated Apr 02, 2012
  • Pamela Glasner Published author, historian, filmmaker and social advocate

Nine months ago, before my mother passed away, before this horror show (my awareness of my parents' money being stolen right out from under everyone's noses) began, if anyone had suggested to me just how easy it is to steal from the elderly and just how often it happens -- AND how unattainable justice is after the fact -- I think I might have gasped incredulously but privately I'd probably have reassured myself with something like, "It's a terrible crime, of course, but it could not possibly happen with that kind of frequency. Surely, in this great country of ours, such horrendous and flagrant violations of the law could not possibly go unpunished!"

2012-01-26-ProductionStillsmallerWatermarkedOldWoman.jpg

And guess what? I'd have been dead wrong. This is not Law and Order, and it will not get neatly wrapped up at the end of sixty minutes. In fact, hard a pill as it is for me to swallow, I now know it will never get wrapped up, neatly or otherwise. Hence the birth of my upcoming film, Last Will and Embezzlement -- a feature-length documentary which delves deeply into the topic of elder exploitation. I had to do something ...

What most Americans are unaware of (and that included me, I assure you!) are the "threshold policies" throughout the US. Simplistically put, because resources are stretched so thin these days, and because all prosecutions have an expense associated with them, each state establishes its own "off the books" policy regarding "dollar amount thresholds" -- the actual financial value assigned to a particular embezzlement case (money stolen vs. what the state might be able to realize at the end of a successful prosecution) -- below which a case simply is not in their interest to pursue. In other words, if they don't think it's worth it, the authorities will simply refuse to do anything about it. Of course, they will never state it that way, but that's what happens.

The effect of these thresholds, outside of saving the state loads of money, is that the lion's share of perpetrators will never be prosecuted -- and they know it. And the effect of that is that it actually encourages repeat offenses, because it creates safety zones in which these perpetrators may operate with impunity.

Implausible as all this may sound, it is more often the rule than the exception. And if you think for one moment that this social problem is not something that effects you, think again. Baby Boomers control 80% of the world's personal finances and we are turning 65 at a rate of 61,000 per day across the globe (in modernized countries, that is).

Our world is facing the largest transfer of wealth from one generation to the next in history, putting into harm's way more than 500 million Baby Boomers as we march headlong into old age ourselves -- not to mention our adult children and our already-aged parents. And all I can say is every man, woman and child had better wake up and they'd better do it soon.

Pamela S. K. Glasner is a published author and a filmmaker. More information about Last Will and Embezzlement and Ms. Glasner can be found at www.lastwillandembezzlement.com, http://tinyurl.com/6tmtfmp, and http://tinyurl.com/2cn8bpo

Copyright by Pamela S. K. Glasner © 2011, All Rights Reserved