On Tuesday, March 26, Fayette County deputies arrested a caretaker for stealing money from her elderly client. Susan Harrah allegedly took the victim’s credit card without permission and used it at multiple locations.

Social worker at the Raleigh County Commission on Aging, Crystal Foley, said financial exploitation of senior citizens is not uncommon and comes in many forms. 

“Whether it’s a scam, whether its stealing out of their checkbook, going out grocery shopping for them and taking some off the top before you give them their checkbook back…” Foley said.

She said it is important to educate the elderly on what to look for and how to protect themselves. Foley advised to never give a caretaker access to your finances, regularly check bank accounts, and hire caretakers from an agency that requires background checks. 

“Seniors are a vulnerable population anyway and then if you open up your home to a perfect stranger that doesn’t have anyone backing up their credibility, then you open up a whole new set of issues that can come out of it,” Foley said. 

She also said just because a person is a close family friend does not mean they can be trusted as a caretaker. In fact, she said a lot of financial exploitation cases come from family or close friends. 

“If you can avoid letting them have access to that family member’s financial matters…do that,” Foley explained.

If you think you or a loved one might be a victim of financial exploitation, contact local law enforcement immediately. You can also reach out to adult protective services or your local commission on aging for more information.