It is a sad reality that vulnerable people can be targeted by scams.
If you are concerned that a vulnerable family member is being scammed, there are steps that you can take.
If your family member is able to make decisions for themselves, it is usually their choice whether to pursue the matter. You can support them by offering to assist them to contact the relevant authorities and seek their own legal and other professional advice.
If you family member does not have capacity to make decisions, it may be necessary for someone to pursue the matter on their behalf.
If your family member has executed an Enduring Power of Attorney for Financial Matters, the appointed attorney normally takes on this role.
The attorney has duties to investigate and take steps to limit further losses. The steps required may include:
Contacting the bank and placing restrictions on accounts
Contacting the police
Contacting Centrelink, particularly if pensions have been redirected
Taking over control of the management of particular assets
Seeking financial and/or tax advice
We strongly recommend that attorneys seek legal advice as soon as possible to discuss appropriate steps as well any potential legal claims or remedies.
The situation is further complicated where the scammer is known to the vulnerable person, such as another family member. In these cases, it may be necessary for the attorney to consider legal options to restrict the scammer’s access to the vulnerable person. This will depend on the scope of the attorney’s appointment (whether they are also appointed in relation to ‘Personal Matters’) and the particular circumstances.
Where there is no Enduring Power of Attorney for Financial Matters, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has powers to select and appoint an administrator and/or guardian if there is a need to do so.
RNG Lawyers has experience in elder law matters and acting for the families of vulnerable people. We understand the sensitivities of these situations. If you have concerns that a family member is being scammed, do not hesitate to contact the Wills & Estates team for confidential, pragmatic and compassionate advice.