Scam Warning: Be Careful of The Geeks

Oregon’s Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum warns, “If you get a text message or email that says you were or will be charged hundreds of dollars to renew your Geek Squad membership unless you call a phone number within 24 hours, don’t be fooled. This is a scam.”

The report indicates such emails will often be accompanied by a false invoice. Do not open such emails, attachments or click on the links.

Questions or concerns?  Call the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392.

Oregon Attorney General Warns of Tax Season Scams

Tax season is here, and with it come scams and frauds that target unsuspecting taxpayers. The Attorney General of Oregon, Ellen Rosenblum, has issued a warning and provided some tips to help people stay safe. Be wary of government imposter scams, in which scammers pose as representatives of government agencies or businesses. These scams often involve requests for personal information, immediate payments, or even threats. As Rosenblum notes, “Oregonians should know that local, state, and federal government agencies will never ask consumers to send money or make payments via a wire transfer, pre-paid gift card or by purchasing cryptocurrency.”

Don’t let scammers take a bite out of your wallet this tax season. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Online Education for Older Adults – Really, for ALL Of Us

Have you heard of, or been the target of, an online scheme?  Of course you have!

  • Warning!  Your Account Has Been Locked
  • Fake Government Threats From the IRS or FBI About Your Misdeeds
  • Alleged Problems With Your Bank Account with “Vishing” (voice phone hacking)
  • Demands For An Extended Car Warranty
  • Text Message Scams (“Smishing”)
  • Online Dating or Sweetheart Scams

The potential list is much longer than the one above, but with the number of cyberattacks and scams increasing over the pandemic, we must be diligent to protect ourselves and our elders. A detailed online article is available through Berkeley

You will learn not only to recognize the warning signs, but also how to protect yourself by changing your passwords and using strong passwords, contacting your credit bureau and banks, asking for support if you need it, scanning your system for malware, disconnecting your device so malware does not spread, being careful about giving away information, noticing odd emails and avoiding the “too-good-to-be-true” offer.

With respect to assisting older online users, they recommend, “If you want to help your older relatives stay safely connected online during these difficult times, make a point to offer your support.  Set aside an hour or two to talk through online safety protocols with your family member, explain the risks they face online and point out a few common red flags that they might need to look out for.”  You can use the article as an excellent launching point, and since your elders took such good care of you, isn’t it time you return the favor?

Important New Case Law Confirms Protection for Vulnerable Oregonians

SYK is proud to announce financial elder abusers under ORS 124.110 cannot wipe away debts to their victims just by filing for bankruptcy.

While one would hope that would not be controversial, the previously reported cases provided too much gray area for abusers.  However, with SYK’s recent work, the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Ninth Circuit held that the elements of Oregon’s financial abuse statute squarely meet the elements of the “larceny” or “embezzlement” grounds for exception to discharge of a debt under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(4).

The case is Bryce Peltier and Kristine Diane Peltier v. Van Loo Fiduciary Services LLC, 2022 WL 4181728 (BAP No. OR-22-1000-FBGBk) (Date Filed August 16, 2022; Ordered Published September 12, 2022).

Congratulations to SYK fiduciary litigator and appellate attorney Darlene Pasieczny, who secured the original state court judgment and handled all aspects of the appeal before the BAP.   SYK bankruptcy and debtor/creditor rights attorney Jessica McConnell assisted with the adversary case filing in the bankruptcy proceedings, and was integral in helping navigate the specialized rules of that court and bankruptcy law, while fiduciary litigator Victoria Blachly assisted throughout.

Our SYK litigation team successfully preserved over $1 million of the state court financial abuse judgment in favor of our client, who is the court-appointed conservator and personal representative for the victims.

Ms. Van Loo responded to the ruling, “SYK’s help was vital.  Thank you so much for helping turn the tide in case law to protect those who have been financially victimized.’”

Letter to the Editor: BOLD Action for Alzheimer’s

SYK attorney, and commissioner on senior services, Victoria Blachly is an outspoken advocate for the Oregon Alzheimer’s Association, and the people whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s.

Today Victoria’s letter to the editor was published, with a call to action for Congress to protect those effected by Alzheimer’s.

“Today, there are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and more than 15 million serving as unpaid caregivers. Too often Alzheimer’s is treated as an aging issue, ignoring the public health consequences of a disease that someone in the United States develops every 66 seconds… Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in America at an estimated cost of $259 billion annually. And with Medicare and Medicaid covering two-thirds of its annual costs, Alzheimer’s demands more attention from our government.”

Victoria raises her voice for those suffering from Alzheimer’s. She is asking Congress to pass the Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act. And she is asking for Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Rep. Greg Walden to fight for the millions of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s.

To learn more about BOLD and about the effect Alzheimer’s has on millions of Americans, visit

Victoria Blachly is a partner at SYK, and an experienced fiduciary litigator that works with many elderly clients, cases or causes, she is also a proud Board Member for the Oregon Alzheimer’s Association Chapter.


Elder Financial Abuse and Escrow Agents – Proposed Oregon House Bill 2780 (HB 2780)

Real Estate

Oregon’s recent House Bill 2780, sponsored by Rep. Julie Parrish of West Linn, seeks to diminish the potential for elder financial abuse by brokers with modifications to real estate regulations that govern property sales for older Americans.

At first glance it might seem like the bill complicates sales for homeowners ages 65 and older, but the extra check serves to protect older sellers from unknowingly vending their property for less than its value.

House Bill 2780 simply adds a ‘pause button’ to any transaction with both of the following conditions:

• A seller ages 65 or older
• A sale price more than 20{45ef85514356201a9665f05d22c09675e96dde607afc20c57d108fe109b047b6} below the property’s appraised or assessed value

As heinous as it might seem, older property owners are victimized by greedy brokers across the nation. People 65 and older are sometimes targeted because it is more likely that they have reduced cognitive functioning, marked by trouble remembering, difficulty learning new things, concentrating, and making decision that affect their everyday life. The Center for Disease Control reports that the number of Americans ages 65 years and older who suffer from cognitive impairment may surpass 13.2 million by the year 2050. Dishonest financial advisers know these statistics just as well as the healthcare professionals.

Read more about how Salem is working to help seniors with House Bill 2780 on OregonLive.

Investor Defender attorneys at Samuels Yoelin Kantor have focused on protecting investors from financial fraud and abuse for more than 32 years. Securities attorney Darlene Pasieczny states, “ We have experience with unscrupulous brokers convincing owners to sell their homes or to take second mortgages in order to purchase risky financial products for the benefit of the commissioned broker.” If you or a loved one has reason to be concerned with a sale or transfer of funds to purchase alternative or illiquid securities, or swing of more than 10{45ef85514356201a9665f05d22c09675e96dde607afc20c57d108fe109b047b6} of reported portfolio value in any account statement, please contact us to understand your potential options for recovery.

Oregon Decides that Attorneys, Dentists, Optometrists, Legislators, and Chiropractors Will Be Mandatory Elder Abuse Reporters as of January 1, 2015

In House Bill 2205 (HB 2205), the Oregon Legislature expanded the list of those professions whose members are required to report suspected elder abuse. Governor Kitzhaber signed HB 2205 into law on June 11, 2013. Under ORS 124.050, an elderly person is defined as anyone 65 years of age or older and abuse includes, but is not limited to, neglect, physical injury and financial exploitation.    

Attorneys will be required to take mandatory abuse reporting continuing legal education classes (CLEs), that will cover elder abuse. Presently, attorneys are mandatory child abuse reporters and are required to take CLEs covering that mandatory reporting obligation. An attorney is not, however, required to breach a client confidence in order to meet this reporting requirement, nor is an attorney required to report if disclosure of this information will be detrimental to his or her client.

The expanded mandatory reporting obligations take effect on January 1, 2015. The bill can be found at the following link:

Cruze: Elder Case

Oregon’s Court of Appeals recently made a step towards clarifying Oregon’s statute prohibiting financial abuse of “vulnerable persons” (which includes persons age 65 and older) under ORS 124.110. However, the broad contours of the elder abuse laws in ORS Chapter 124 remain far from certain.

In Cruze v. Hudler, 246 Or App 649 (November 23, 2011), the court addressed various fraud claims alleged against Markley in an investment scheme. While not discussed in depth by the court, one of these claims was for financial abuse of an elderly person under ORS 124.110(1)(a) where an action may be brought under for financial abuse in the following circumstances:

When a person wrongfully takes or appropriates money or property of a vulnerable person, without regard to whether the person taking or appropriating the money or property has a fiduciary relationship with the vulnerable person.

Cruze, 246 Or App at 649. The court referred to another Oregon case, Church v. Woods, 190 Or App 112 (2003), and paraphrased it to mean that “conduct is ‘wrongful’ under ORS 124.110 if it is carried out by improper means, including deceit and misrepresentation.” Id.

This phrase “wrongfully takes or appropriates” is a slippery one. In Cruze, the alleged abuse was wrongful taking through fraudulent misrepresentation – a tort claim that requires showing, among other things, that the party subjectively intended to deceive the victim.These cases suggest that, at least for the purposes of ORS 124.110(1)(a), a person who mistakenly but incorrectly takes money or property from an elderly person in an otherwise lawful context should not create elder abuse liability.  But as with many legal issues, guarantees are tough to come by.   

California Attorney Disbarred for Sham Marriage to 85 Year Old Client

A California attorney is facing disbarment for her allegedly sham marriage to her 85-year-old client (she’s 54), where she got $339,000 and he was cremated after his death – in direct contradiction to his intentions as set forth in his will.

The Judge reported the attorney "took advantage of a lonely, sick old man" and thwarted his intent to transfer his estate to his nieces.

Financial elder abuse comes in all shapes and sizes. 

WA: Financial Institutions and Vulnerable Adults

The State of Washington recently provided more protection through ESSB 6202 to vulnerable adults – and more incentive for financial institutions to be proactive – wherein financial institutions are allowed to refuse transactions when there is a reasonable belief that financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult may have occurred or was or is being attempted.  The financial institution, without liability, may notify in writing all depositors, beneficiaries, or other persons claiming an interest and withhold payment until written consent from all interested parties is obtained or the court directs payment.   

Financial institutions must provide employee training on financial exploitation of vulnerable adults and the institutions and employees are immune from civil liability for certain good faith acts in response to suspected abuse. 

"Financial institutions" includes broker-dealers and investment advisers.