Caregiver Fraud: a #WiseChoice To Prevent It
Two fraud cases. Both are cautionary tales about choosing safe and competent caregivers for our senior loved ones. (photo courtesy: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)
Home Instead Memphis, your #WiseChoice for in-home senior and disabled care, alerted me to the case of 36-year-old Gloria Hoskins of Memphis (pictured). The family of 67-year-old Martha Payne hired Hoskins, an independent caregiver with no agency affiliation or credentials, to look after Payne in her Memphis home. The family admittedly did not do its homework in hiring Hoskins.
It didn’t take long for things to go wrong.
According to records from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), Payne’s family noticed things coming up missing in her home, including thousands of dollars from her checking account over a period of time. The record indicated Hoskins methodically won Payne’s trust — so much so that the disabled senior gave Hoskins full access to her finances. TBI investigators said Hoskins stole more than $90,000 from Payne’s accounts. Hoskins even convinced Payne to sell her home. Hoskins pocketed the proceeds, per the TBI.
In September 2020, agents of the TBI’s Medicaid Fraud Control Division arrested Hoskins on four felony counts: financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, theft of property between $60,000-$250,000, forgery and identity theft. Shelby County authorities held her on a $100,000 bond awaiting trial.
But Payne died before Hoskins could go to trial. With the victim no longer alive, the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office had no choice but to drop the case.
“We were, however, able to recover three vehicles Hoskins bought with money she stole from Payne,” said Larry Buser, the district attorney general’s public information officer. “We recovered them through civil forfeiture and seizure laws as restitution for Payne’s family.”
“If the family had been using Home Instead Memphis in the first place, this situation would not have gotten to the point it did,” said Phillip Kennedy, client care coordinator and marketing director for Home Instead Memphis. “In caregiver orientation, we explain our priority is to protect our clients, whether that be from falls, from choking or from predators.”
Unlike other senior care agencies, Home Instead Memphis runs its caregiver candidates through several levels of background checks before they’re ever hired. “We do a two-step interview process, multi-state background checks, drug tests, elder abuse and sex offender registry checks for every caregiver who applies,” Kennedy said.
“Our caregivers are trained to notice suspicious activity and report it to the office, who then reports it to the family (or to the appropriate authorities).”
That would have come in handy in another case, this one in Oxford, Mississippi. This time, it wasn’t a wayward caregiver, but a local yokel who was aggressively befriending Jill’s 90-year-old mother.
“There was a woman who was trying to involve herself with my mother and trying to access her finances,” said Jill (not her real name to protect her identity). “This woman was trying to falsely make doctor appointments for my mom, saying she had power of attorney and that she was in charge.”
Jill said at the time, the in-home care company she had hired for her mom made matters worse. “The woman bamboozled the home health company to the point where they were cutting me out,” said Jill, who manages her mom’s affairs from another state. “They were ignoring me and my brother, who is a doctor with legal medical control of my mom! I had to convince them that this woman is not family, nor is she authorized to represent my mom.”
Jill fired that home health company — then hired Home Instead Memphis. Home Instead assigned a caregiver who not only had passed its multi-level background checks and drug testing, but also had completed a 6-hour training regimen that emphasized companionship, light housekeeping, meal prep and Alzheimer’s-type dementia detection and care.
“Home Instead was the only one I called,” Jill said. “I built a relationship with the caregiver. She’s good to my mom and compatible with her. And she knows when that woman is on the prowl of my mom — to the point that the woman hangs up when she calls my mom’s house and Home Instead’s caregiver answers the phone.”
“We would not send a caregiver to a client’s home whom we would not want in our own homes,” Kennedy insisted. “Our family is your family. To us, it’s personal.”
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