Massachusetts elderly services work to protect clients from fraud

A statewide hotline is now available for people in Massachusetts looking to report elder abuse. (WJAR)

A statewide hotline is now available for people in Massachusetts looking to report elder abuse.

Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn spoke to volunteers and staff at Coastline Elderly Services in New Bedford Friday about the initiative.

"It is reprehensible that the elderly are financially abused," Quinn said.

About three years ago, Quinn developed a financial crimes unit, which focuses on abuse of those ages 60 and older.

"During these past three years, we've brought a lot of criminal charges in crimes against the elderly," Quinn said. "These aren't easy cases to prosecute: vulnerable victims, family members, caretakers, issues of competency."

Coastline Elderly Services Money Management coordinator Natasha Salemme said she sees financial exploitation on nearly a weekly basis.

"Usually, it comes from a relative," she said.

In March, three family members were charged in a case involving the death of an 80-year-old Westport woman. Prosecutors said the family failed to provide the woman medical care and stole around $100,000 from her.

The hotline, which serves all of Massachusetts, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Clients will be referred to a local, vetted agency to discuss the complaint. The number is 1-800-922-2275.

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