Ventura County District Attorney
Gregory D. Totten
Fraud Prevention Summit 2012
September 13, 2012
Marriott Courtyard, Oxnard
Sociologists tell us that within healthy cultures there exists a social compact of sorts where each generation honors the contributions of its predecessor by caring for their needs in old age. Pulitzer Prize winning author Pearl Buck put it best when she wrote, “The [truest] test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its [most] helpless members.”
Combating elder abuse and financial exploitation is really about protecting freedom. When the aged are victimized, all too often they lose the financial independence and personal freedom that retirees most treasure. And, in extreme cases, they may even lose their will to live and die prematurely. Tragically, fear and embarrassment causes many of these victims to remain silent. In other cases, physical and mental impairments prevent reporting.
When I consider the elders we are trying to protect, my thoughts often turn to my own maternal grandmother. She was a very gentle and humble woman who, despite hardship and suffering, brought joy into to the lives of everyone she touched. As a child, she witnessed her family lose everything and even saw the grief over their sudden turn of fortunes eventually take the life her father.