Financial abuse of vulnerable adults an emerging issue, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Financial abuse of vulnerable adults an emerging issue

Over the past five years, the authorities investigated between five and 18 cases of alleged financial abuse of vulnerable adults, such as seniors with disabilities, each year.

The financial abuse of vulnerable adults is an emerging issue of concern, said Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli on Feb 6 in a written parliamentary reply to Associate Professor Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC).

The cases investigated by the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) Adult Protective Service include adult children forcing their parents to monetise their assets for the child’s benefit and the child withdrawing the parents’ bank accounts without the seniors’ knowledge, said Mr Masagos.

Often, the perpetrator was an immediate family member of the victim-survivor, he said.

Prof Lim had asked for the number of cases of financial abuse and exploitation of vulnerable adults each year in the past five years, the relationship between the victim and perpetrator, and existing measures to detect such abuse, among other questions.

A vulnerable adult is a person aged 18 and older who, because of his physical or mental infirmities, or disabilities, is incapable of protecting himself from abuse or neglect.

The Straits Times understands this is the first time figures relating to the financial abuse of vulnerable adults have been released.

Mr Masagos said: “Financial abuse is an emerging issue, and MSF is concerned with its potential negative effects on victim-survivors and the wider community.”

He added that some of the perpetrators also used violence, which harmed the victim physically and caused them distress.

Social workers also detect cases of financial abuse when helping those facing violence at home, he added.

In his parliamentary reply, Mr Masagos urged those who are abused by a loved one, including those who have been financially abused, to seek help from a Family Service Centre or call the National Anti-Violence and Sexual Harassment Helpline on 1800-777-0000.