Department Of Aging Launches New Investigative Unit

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging announced today that it is forming a dedicated four-person team to investigate financial exploitation cases against seniors.

The Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) will assist the aging network in investigating and combatting the financial exploitation of older Pennsylvanians for the next two years. It evolved from a two-year-old pilot program led by David Aiello, a retired state trooper specializing in financial exploitation investigations. The program will be funded by $666,000 in federal grants for the next two years.

According to the Department of Aging, financial exploitation is among the top three types of elder abuse reported to the agency. A 2019 study examined several hundred substantiated financial exploitation cases in 14 Pennsylvania counties. On average, victims suffered financial losses of nearly $40,000 each. However, because many of these cases go unreported, financial exploitation losses may actually be much higher.

“Based on a sample of 22 cases where we exercised enhanced coordination and early intervention, nearly $3 million in assets were protected from further exploitation. Given these results, we decided to expand this model and build more capacity to better support AAAs on these cases and get the justice that victims deserve,” said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “This FAST unit will be available to assist in both investigating and resolving financial exploitation cases. It will also work on building or strengthening relationships with law enforcement to achieve justice for older adult victims and to mitigate damages as quickly as possible.”

“Utilizing specialty software, FAST analysts ‘follow the money’ to help field investigators, law enforcement and our own elder justice attorney determine what happened to elderly victims’ assets. Our attorney, in turn, will fight to claw back stolen assets and hold perpetrators accountable,” said David Aiello, FAST supervisor.

What is financial exploitation?

Property theft

Misuse of income or assets

Misuse of Power of Attorney

Medical scams

Contractor scams

Grandchild imposter emergencies

Social Security scams

IRS scams

Fake charities

Gift card scams

Pension poaching and more.

The Department of Aging recently unveiled a financial exploitation webpage with information for older adults, caregivers, and other aging professionals. It provides warning signs, preventive measures, and resources on key topics in everyday terms.

The department also launched a 20-minute online elder abuse awareness training that covers the four major types of abuse and how to recognize them. The training is available on the PDA Learning Management System (LMS).

Anyone suspecting elder abuse should call the 24-hour statewide reporting hotline at 1-800-490-8505.

More information is available on the Department of Aging website and Facebook page.