Elder abuse attorneys report that a New York stockbroker recently stole $4,500 from one of his longtime clients, a World War II veteran in his eighties.
The case was recently brought before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) disciplinary council. In December 2008, Robert Tucker engaged in a scheme to steal his clients’ funds to pay his own superfluous personal expenses. At the time, Tucker was working at Bishop Rosen & Co., and the elderly veteran was one of his long-standing clients.
Tucker entered the securities industry in 1989, and has since associated with over 20 different FINRA member firms. Beginning in 2000, Tucker acquired hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt to credit card agencies, a country club, the IRS, and former employers. Tucker petitioned for bankruptcy twice, in 2002 and 2004. He failed to pay both state and federal taxes, resulting in tax liens amounting to more than $330,000. In December 2007, just a year before the theft, the New York Supreme Court entered a $48,000 judgment against Tucker in favor of his former employer.
Tucker did not disclose any of this information to Bishop Rosen. When the theft occurred, Tucker prepared a standard wire request form instructing Bishop Rosen to wire $4,500 into his personal checking account from the account of the retired veteran. As part of the legal guidelines for such a transfer, Bishop Rosen required a wire request form with signatures from both Tucker and a manager, a signed letter from the retired veteran detailing the conditions of the request, and a transmission of the form from an internal Bishop Rosen fax machine. Bishop Rosen restricts access to its outgoing fax machines to curtail such thefts, hiring an employee to handle outgoing communications and programming the machine so that it automatically sends copies of outgoing faxes to an internal e-mail.
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Of course, Tucker knew he could not abide by any of these guidelines, and evaded each requirement purposefully. He signed the wire request form as both the account’s representative and as a manager, and did not seek approval for the request. Tucker then went to a nearby retail shop in search of a fax machine to send the transfer form so no evidence would exist in Bishop Rosen files.
Prior to the theft, Tucker’s checking account had a balance of negative $65. After the $4,500 transfer, Tucker used $3,900 of it to pay off personal expenses, such as telephone bills, a gym membership, and other retail purchases. Within two weeks of the theft, Tucker’s checking account was back in the red.
The elderly veteran saw his bank statements and complained to Bishop Rosen officers, who confronted Tucker about the unauthorized transfer. Tucker did not deny the theft, instead promising to “fix it.” He arranged for a friend to pay Bishop Rosen so the firm could reimburse the retired senior.
A formal complaint was not filed against Tucker until 2011, and the hearing took place in July 2012. During the hearing, Tucker claimed that his elderly client gave him full consent to invest the $4,500 into an alternative trading platform. The elderly man appeared in court and testified that such a discussion never took place, and that he complained to Bishop Rosen immediately after discovering the transfer. The FINRA Hearing Panel ordered Tucker to pay the hearing costs and barred him from the securities industry, suspending him for two years.
Unfortunately, retired seniors are a major target for monetary theft and fraud. The veteran in this case was a longtime client of Tucker’s, and trusted him with his financial information. Exploitation of this type can occur in many forms – by nursing home staff, visitors, even family members looking to profit off vulnerability. The unlawful manipulation of a senior’s funds, assets, or property is an insidious form of elder abuse. Financial exploitation is the third most common form of abuse in the United States, and, though it may be difficult to detect, there are warning signs.
Senior abuse attorneys warn nursing home residents and their families to watch for unexplained withdrawals, forged signatures, suspicious investments, changes to wills or deeds, and overcharging of services. If you suspect financial exploitation, contact local authorities and consider seeking legal council to receive justice for the crimes.