Boom in adult children stealing from parents

Experts say they are fed up of waiting for their inheritance

Updated: 
senior adult man consoles sad...

The number of adult children stealing from their elderly parents has shot up. In the first half of 2015, crown courts dealt with £2.1 million worth of cases of families stealing from one another - almost four times more than the same time last year. Fraud against elderly relatives made up 80% of it.

The figures have been revealed by the KPMG Fraud Barometer, which measures cases worth £100,000 or more. It said that people over the age of 65 were far more likely to become victims (accounting for £1.7 million of the fraud), and 72% of the largest cases were committed by people over the age of 45.

Why?

The experts concluded that this baby boomer fraud may be because adult children were getting frustrated waiting for their parents to hand over an inheritance - so they decided to take matters into their own hands and get their hands on the cash early.

It highlighted a case where a woman stole her father's savings after being granted power of attorney, leaving his care home bills unpaid; and another where a man stole his mother's £600,000 savings after realising he was not the main recipient in her will.

Hitesh Patel, UK Forensic Partner at KPMG, said: "People are living longer, and we are seeing examples of people who are choosing to remove uncertainties about when or if they will get their inheritance by fraudulent means. It's also likely these cases are just the tip of the iceberg – frauds of this nature often go unreported as embarrassed victims seek to 'keep it in the family' and 'forgive and forget'."

He added that family members are in a unique position to steal from their parents because they are trusted and: "Fraudsters in the family are abusing their intimate knowledge and close connections to steal from partners and parents."

Horrible cases

During 2015 there have been some sickening cases. Last month a teaching assistant from Rochdale was jailed for a year, after stealing £120,000 from her mother, and spending it on a new kitchen and a number of holidays. She was meant to be taking care of her mother's finances, as she suffered from dementia. However, she took so much cash that her mother was unable to cover the cost of her care home fees.

Then there was the woman from Surrey who was granted power of attorney for her sick mother, and withdrew more than £370,000 of her mother's cash to fund a lavish lifestyle. Her brother stepped in after hearing his mother's house was on the market.

In May a surveyor from Bradford was jailed for two years, after promising to take care of his mother - who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease - and using the opportunity to steal £70,000 from her over the course of five years. It left her penniless and facing visits from bailiffs.

Back in January, a 46-year-old woman from Stoke-on-Trent was jailed for a year after admitting stealing £18,000 from her 82-year-old mother. The older woman had given her a bank card so she could withdraw £200, but she held onto the card and used the cash for lavish shopping and online gambling.

Crime stories on AOL Money

X Factor star Rebecca Ferguson ripped off by woman she thought was a friend

Dating scammer posed as US soldier

Scamwatch: phishing messages

Ten unfortunate criminal mistakes

Ten unfortunate criminal mistakes


Why Family Fights May Be Good For Children