Sen. Allison DeGazon speaks to importance of financial abuse after recent crimes against elderly
After financial crimes against the elderly community picked up during December, Sen. Allison DeGazon stressed the importance of Bill No. 33-0077 to protect elders from financial abuse.
Bill No. 33-0077 is an act amending title 34, chapter 15 of the Virgin Islands Code by deleting section 470 and adding a new chapter relating to the financial exploitation of elderly persons or dependent adults.
The first arrest took place within three days of the bill on Thursday, Dec. 05, when a woman was arrested after she allegedly forged the signature of an elderly relative without his consent and deposited his check into her account.
The following day, a bank employee was caught using the account of someone she knows, who police say is an elderly woman, to write herself a $4,000 check, according to V.I.P.D. Public Information Officer Toby Derima.
Then on Saturday, a man was arrested after he took $25,000 from an elderly man to purchase a vehicle.
“This is why it was imperative that I propose a bill to protect our most vulnerable,” DeGazon, said, noting that she wrote the bill to hinder crimes of this nature. The bill was recently heard on Monday, Dec. 02, during a Committee on Health, Hospitals and Human Services hearing at the Virgin Islands Cardiac Center on St. Croix. It was voted on favorably and forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary. “I look forward to this becoming law with the support of my colleagues.”
Trevor Velinor, commissioner of the VI Police Department, testified in support of the bill last week, noting that at the time that from 2017 to present, there were 12 reported financially fraudulent behavior against the elderly territory wide.
In 2017 and 2019, the St. Croix District reported one and two cases respectively. The St. Thomas/St. John District reported one case in 2017; two cases in 2018; and six in 2019.
“In my briefing with Senator DeGazon as the bill sponsor, we discussed the various unreported cases as reported to the her by local banking representatives. We found the common cause for the lack of sufficient data in these types of cases,” Velinor said at the time. “Because of the closeness of our families in the Virgin Islands, it is believed that this crime is also underreported.”
The V.I.P.D. advised those who prey on seniors, and those seniors who are victims, that the police department will investigate every complaint, and will arrest pending the outcome of the investigation.