CEDAR CITY – A 31-year-old Cedar City man was arrested Friday for exploitation of a vulnerable adult after he reportedly stole more than $5,000 from his grandmother over a period of several months.
On Jan. 23, the woman reported that her grandson, Brandon Ashley Williams, had been stealing her credit card from her purse without her knowledge and using it to make purchases without her permission, Iron County Sheriff’s Office Detective Nathan Houchen said in the probable cause statement filed in connection with the arrest.
The woman provided the Sheriff’s Office with bank statements indicating several thousand dollars in unauthorized charges on her account.
The bank statements showed charges starting around $100 a month in unauthorized charges and fees before gradually increasing to $4,338.90 in December 2014, Houchen said in the statement. An additional $2,946 in unauthorized charges from Jan. 11-22 were also shown on the bank statements.
On Jan. 19, Williams reportedly went to Pawn Plus in Cedar City and paid $1,500 for his repossessed truck using the credit card belonging to his grandmother without her permission, the statement said.
Collected surveillance footage shows Williams using the stolen credit card at several locations throughout Cedar City, Houchen said in the statement.
Williams was arrested and booked into the Iron County Jail on Friday.
He was initially charged with two second-degree felonies for exploitation of a vulnerable adult and credit card fraud. On Tuesday, an additional second-degree felony for theft and third-degree felony for forgery were added to Williams’ charges, according to booking information.
Williams was previously convicted of a third-degree felony for unlawful possession of a finance card in 2011, according to Utah state court records.
Research shows that as many as five million older adults are victims of financial exploitation each year, costing seniors an estimated $3 billion annually. Utah seniors are exploited out of at least $7.7 million each year, with the average victim losing just over $85,000.
As financial exploitation of older adults becomes more prevalent in the United States, Utah Adult Protective Services has joined a nationwide campaign to encourage older adults and their families to address the issue and get informed about the warning signs as well as resources available to help prevent abuse.
There are several signs of financial exploitation to look out for, including financial activity that is inconsistent with an older adult’s history; confusion about a recent financial arrangement; a caregiver or beneficiary who refuses to use designated funds for necessary care and treatment of an older adult; and an older adult who feels threatened by a caregiver who is seeking to control their finances.
The Utah Department of Human Services recommends that if someone is hired to help out in an older adult’s home, it should be ensured that the person has been properly screened with criminal background checks. Ask for certifications when appropriate.
“Financial exploitation can be prevented if people know the right questions to ask and where to turn for help,” Mary Twomey, co-director of the National Center on Elder Abuse, said. “Although it is a sensitive issue and one that can be difficult to broach, it is critical for families to address, and there are many useful resources available to guide them through the process.”
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
- To learn about preventing elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, or to obtain a free copy of Legal Guide 55, call 877-424-4640
- Report suspected elder abuse in the Adult Protective Services online form
- A digital copy of “Protect Your Pocketbook: Tips to Avoid Financial Exploitation” is available online
- Toll-free statewide phone number for reporting elder abuse, neglect or exploitation | Telephone: 800-371-7897
- Five County Association of Governments Aging Services Division | Telephone: 435-673-3548
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