Investigating Financial Exploitation: New York’s FEIST-y New Approach

Investigating Financial Exploitation: New York’s FEIST-y New Approach
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Resources
Recorded on: 2019-10-23
Unit 1Slide Deck: Investigating Financial Exploitation: New York’s FEIST-y New Approach
Unit 2Workbook: Investigating Financial Exploitation: New York’s FEIST-y New Approach
Unit 3Recording: Investigating Financial Exploitation, New York’s FEIST-y New Approach

Elder abuse incidents go unnoticed and unreported especially if it does not cause apparent injuries. One aspect of elder abuse that is rarely discovered until it’s too late is financial exploitation. Unfortunately, some adult protective services and law enforcement aren’t as adept in processing such cases and collating needed evidence to prove it. The Financial Exploitation Investigation Suite of Tools (FEIST) is an innovation set to change the way financial exploitation of elders and vulnerable adults are being investigated.

This webinar’s instructors are Alan Lawitz and Karen Webber. Alan is the Director of the Bureau of Adult Services for New York. He wrote several publications and studies on the topic of adult care and elder financial abuse. He also served as a Senior Attorney for the New York State Department of Social Services, representing the agency in the areas of Adult Protective Services, Adult Care Facilities/Assisted Living and Homeless Housing. Meanwhile, Karen is a Forensic Accountant, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) in New York involved in cases of financial exploitation on elder and vulnerable adults. She plays an integral role in New York’s elder abuse MDTs and spearheaded the FEIST project.

Alan and Karen discuss FEIST from inception to implementation. Points they delved into are:

  • A backgrounder on financial exploitation cases in New York that served as the impetus for the grant that made the development of the FEIST possible.
  • The goals identified by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) for the grant.
  • The definition of financial exploitation and statistics that provide a snapshot of the extent and increase of financial exploitation cases in New York since 2011.
  • The development of the Financial Exploitation Investigation Suite of Tools (FEIST).
    • The stakeholders involved in the initiative.
    • The jurisdictions that did the pilot-run for the program.
    • The resources utilized and existing practices referenced for the contents of the FEIST.
    • The creation of the tool and the modifications done based on feedback from the pilot sites.
  • An outline and demo of the steps followed by the caseworkers using the FEIST.
    • The questions to ask and guidelines for other notes and observations during the initial client meeting.
    • The red flags checklist to make it easier for caseworkers to identify signs of potential financial exploitation.
    • Guidelines on the documentation (dependent on the results of Phase I) to request from various institutions to get a better idea of the financial exploitation.
    • Filling out an income and expenses table.
    • Accomplishing the bank statement summary that allows the caseworker to observe spending patterns, trends, and irregularities on the finances.
    • Running a red flags checklist based on the financial activities and transactions reviewed.
  • The appendices that serve as helpful supplements for case management, summaries of the findings from the investigation, and resources if the services of a forensic accountant are required.
  • The remedies and guardianship that New York State made available to resolve financial exploitation cases.
  • An overview of a Forensic Accountant’s role, their services, and the report they can produce.
  • A case example where the FEIST was utilized in a financial exploitation case and the successful outcome of the investigation.
  • Alan and Karen addressed questions related to:
    • The content of the 15-day letter.
    • Working with uncooperative financial exploitation victims.
    • What motivates family members to financially exploit their elderly and vulnerable loved ones.
    • Finding local certified fraud examiners.
    • Awareness efforts to better inform seniors about financial exploitation.
    • Uncovering unreported assets.


Resource Mentioned During Webinar:


Audience Comments:

  • “I really like the forms. Great tool.” — Julie
  • “The information provided was extremely useful and checklists are wonderful in ensuring nothing is overlooked.” — Patty
  • “I enjoyed being able to see how the Fiest tool kit works with someone providing information about how to complete the individual pieces.” — STEPHANIE
  • “The tools will be very valuable!” — Shanna
  • “This was a good and interesting webinar. I did not know that there are certified fraud examiners who can be resources. I will check in our city/state to see if we have that resource and others mentioned. The FEIST seems like a good tool.” — Tetrazena
  • “This was a very informative webinar with so much resource information.” — Umar


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