Dear Grandparenting: Ashley is my oldest grandchild. She came to live with me when her parents were at war with each other and never left. That was six years ago.
Gradually she took over my finances. Ashley was always good with figures and knew how to keep computer records of everything. Because I trusted her so, I figured why not? Last year she came home with a fancy BMW car that only had 11,000 miles on the odometer. She was all excited and I didn’t think more about it because she was always “saving up” for a car.
Guess whose money she was saving up with? My own flesh and blood was stealing me blind. Ashley found a way to make up fake bank monthly statements on her computer that looked legit.
I only found out after my bank merged and I began getting statements by mail. I gave Ashley 30 minutes to clear out. I’m on the fence about pressing charges. She took about $18,000. What do you think? Miriam Rose, Albany, New York
Dear Miriam: Who can you really trust? Because if you can’t trust family, then who’s left? That’s the predicament of countless grandparents fleeced by family members.
It’s bad enough dealing with outsiders trying to take advantage. But when it comes to schemes that separate grandparents from their money, an inside job is a snake in the grass — the one you don’t see coming.
Financial exploitation is rising like a rocket, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, and a family member is the perpetrator 60 percent of the time. That said, the actual numbers across the board are considerably higher, since so many incidents go unreported or undetected.
You won’t be the last grandparent fooled by technologies that can crank out authentic-looking fakes of official documentation. Your great mistake was granting your granddaughter unchecked oversight of your funds, tossing aside your personal responsibility in the process. While we understand your hesitancy to press charges against close kin, we can think of 18,000 reasons why you might want to take action. A middle ground is to obtain a signed and witnessed confession and hold it over her while she repays you, with interest. Keep her on probation. That should give her something to think about.
Grand remark of the week
Phil Daniels from San Antonio, Texas “eases back instead of scolding” his grandchildren.
“It’s easier to build up a child than repair an adult,” said Phil. “Better choose your words wisely.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.