The Department of Justice brought almost 300 criminal and civil actions against more than 650 people who collectively stole more than $1.5 billion from more than 2.4 million older adults, including assisted living residents, according to the agency’s annual elder fraud report. The actions occurred over a period from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023.
The agency issued its fifth annual report to Congress last week on its effort to combat elder fraud and abuse, highlighting transnational and domestic fraud schemes, including lottery, romance and tech support scams, as well as its pursuit of nursing home operators that provided “grossly substandard care” to residents.
The report includes several fraud cases that involved assisted living residents:
- In Iowa, Carol Ann Feist reportedly stole more than $400,000 from two relatives, one of whom lived in an assisted living community. The woman stole checks from the relatives and stole the identity of the reatives’ power of attorney to sell stocks and steal cash, according to the report.
- Kevin Breslin, the former CEO of Atrium Health and Senior Living In Park Ridge, NJ, which operated nine assisted living communities and 24 skilled nursing facilities in Wisconsin and Michigan, was charged with diverting funds from the facilities through guaranteed payments to Atrium owners, guaranteed monthly return-on-investment payments to investors, and construction costs. The indictment further alleged that the diversion of funds led to inadequate care of residents, including a shortage of clean incontinence briefs, inadequate wound care supplies, inadequate cleaning supplies, and a lack of durable medical equipment and repository supplies.
- Donna Sue Glass, who operated an assisted living community in Argillite, KY, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in August in connection to wire fraud charges. Glass, the owner of Glass Family Care Home, was an authorized signer on one resident’s bank accounts and guardian over two others. She was accused of misappropriating $95,000 from residents and was ordered to pay $87,700 in restitution.
- In Montana, Elizabeth Stephenson was sentenced to 32 months in prison and ordered to pay $21,000 in restitution for multiple counts of wire fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. She reportedly stole the money from a 96-year-old assisted living resident at the community where she worked.
- Shantyl Giacoletto was sentenced to a year in prison for medication theft. A full time nurse at a hospital, Giacoletto was accused of stealing opiates. Once fired, she moved on to assisted living communities and eventually in-home care, where she continued to steal drugs from residents and patients, the DOJ said.
The DOJ said it returned hundreds of millions of dollars to victims of elder fraud schemes while helping to freeze millions of dollars for other older victims before their funds were transferred to fraudsters.
In addition, the DOJ said it supported more than 5,000 victim assistance organizations that provided advocacy, crisis intervention, civil legal assistance, transportation and emergency shelter to more than 240,000 older adults. The agency also supports the National Elder Fraud Hotline, which takes reports of suspected fraud from older adults and connects them to available social services.
From its launch in March 2020 through June 30, 2023, the National Elder Fraud Hotline had received 88,657 calls, and staff members helped callers with 5,200 complaint forms, which reported fraud to the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3.
The report also highlighted FBI field office elder justice presentations to assisted living staff members and residents and other groups. In addition to raising awareness about elder fraud, the presentations covered trends in scams targeting older adults, prevention tips and education resources.
The Federal Trade Commission recently released its annual report finding that older adults lost $1.6 billion to scams last year, with investment scams proving the most costly type in 2022.