Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove are calling for action on a legislative initiative that would create the new offense of theft by financial exploitation of a vulnerable person.
Connors, Rumpf and Gove are calling for legislative action on their bill creating the new offense of theft by financial exploitation of a vulnerable person. (Flickr)
Under the 9th District delegation’s legislation (S-925/A-738), a newly established offense of financial exploitation would be established for a person who, when being in a position of trust, commits a theft against a senior citizen or a person with a disability.
Connors, Rumpf and Gove remarked on the key provisions of their legislation to protect some of the most vulnerable persons in our society:
“Seniors are being victimized for financial exploitation and fraud at an increasing alarming rate. In a recent statement New Jersey Bureau of Securities Chief Laura H. Posner has warned that financial fraud is one of the fastest-growing forms of elder abuse and that a staggering one in five Americans 65 or older are victims of this crime, costing more than $2.6 billion per year.
“It’s a disturbing reality, but seniors’ heavy reliance on others for tending to their financial matters makes them an easier target to prey upon. Penalties for this crime must, therefore, be enhanced as an effective deterrent against this escalating form of senior abuse.
“Under our legislation, a new offense would be established for persons who, in betraying their position of trust, commit the crime of financially exploiting a senior or disabled person. Persons in a position of trust would include a relative, home health aide, a joint-tenant or someone with a fiduciary obligation to a senior citizen or person with a disability.
“For acts of theft by financial exploitation of a vulnerable person, the penalty would be upgraded to a crime of the fourth degree from a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense. Otherwise, it is a crime one degree higher than the most serious underlying theft offense.”
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has made available on its website copies of the FedUp Handbook as part of its Senior Fraud Education and Protection Program. Investor education materials, which also cover senior fraud, has been made available on the New Jersey Bureau of Securities website.
Presently, S-925 and A-738 are awaiting consideration by the respective committees to which the measures have been referred, the Senate Judiciary Committee and Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.