1. MrsMoose

    MrsMoose Registered User

    Oct 1, 2014
    I assume this is a common concern.

    My father in law lives in sheltered accommodation and will soon be 94. His bills are paid by direct debit and other expenses - cleaning, laundry are paid by cash. He doesn't go out to the shops, and hasn't as far as we know acquired any new clothing, possessions etc. We recently became concerned because he seemed to be acquiring a lot of DVDs which he then passed on to us, mostly still in their original wrapping, saying he didn't want them but was sure we would enjoy them. (30 in the last 3 weeks.)

    We looked up his bank statements - we have power of attorney - and found about £300 worth of cheques had been written since January. At first we thought this must be to do with the DVDs, though the spacing was very odd with quite a few all having been written on the same day. But after conferring with my brother-in-law it turned out he was buying the DVDs as a gift. (Though he's now a bit fed up about them not being watched.)

    We're now going to a) ask my father-in-law about the cheques b) look at the stubs and c) if necessary find out from the bank where the money was spent.

    My father-in-law only has a modest income from pensions, so we're a bit worried. He was diagnosed with mixed dementia last autumn.
  2. SisterAct

    SisterAct Registered User

    Hi Mrs Moose.
    It is quite common but if he is not getting to the shops someone might be buying them for him. You need to find out who the cheques are made out to and have a word with them. I just hope someone isn't taking advantage of him.
    If he still wants to keep buying DVDs tell him you will get them for him and just recycle the ones he has given you and tear up the cheque. (I am assuming his memory isn't good). We used to do that with a bottle of Malt whiskey with Dad and he was none the wiser and even though he never drank it he loved receiving it.
    Happy result all round
    Polly x
  3. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    £300 worth of dvd's, that's a lot. Cheques are not accepted in shops anymore, so someone is definitely buying them for him and probably being repaid with a cheque, bank should give you the name, might be a good idea to cancel present cheque book, he can still write out cheques but the bank will not honour them. Good luck
  4. jugglingmum

    jugglingmum Registered User

    Jan 5, 2014
    Not sure if I've misread, as I interpreted that the BIL bought DVDs as a present so the £300 is spent on something else. It does seem odd to be multiple cheques on the same day.

    I know my mum has betterware come to her door and so buys things out of this. The betterware rep queried when she spent a large sum, and as she has plenty of funds, and it wasn't a big amount in the from her point of view so I said it was OK.

    As you say LPA is in place I agree with Tin that maybe you need to cancel his chequebook and make sure warden/manager of sheltered accommodation is aware that you will be paying all his bills in future. How easy is it for outsiders to get access to your dad?

    I am aware that at the moment my mum is OK with her cheque book, but I will block it when I think I need to. It will cause confusion but I am conscious that she could easily spend a lot with betterware on useless tat.
  5. brambles

    brambles Registered User

    Sep 22, 2014
    NW England
    My mum sent cheques to every charity that sent a letter to her for several years. The more she sent, the more letters she got. If they enclosed a free pen or some address stickers she sent even more money.

    Now she can no longer manage to write cheques herself, thankfully.

    It can be a very difficult situation.

    brambles x
  6. MrsMoose

    MrsMoose Registered User

    Oct 1, 2014
    Thanks everyone. To clarify, at first we thought all the money had gone on DVDs. Now it appears it must have gone on something else as it seems the DVDs were all a gift paid for by my brother-in-law.

    It's interesting to realise that the most likely thing is that the cheques were most likely to have been made out to an individual. It seems possible that someone is doing shopping for him. But if so, what are they buying? No new items have appeared in his small flat that we have been aware of. (We buy food for him and any clothing or toiletries that he needs. We also get him cash from the nearby bank so he has money to pay for cleaning and laundry.)

    It's odd that several cheques should be made out on the same day. Also they are all in round numbers - say £47 rather than £47.25.

    It would be upsetting to think that someone was fleecing him/taking advantage of him. It's a residential home and as far a I know apart from his daily carer who calls in, and the staff there - plus other residents - he really doesn't see anybody.

    My husband is going to see his father tomorrow, so we shall aim to have some light shed on this - and try to ensure that any further inappropriate spending is stopped.
  7. Jessbow

    Jessbow Registered User

    I'd take the cheque book away until its resolved. Also query with the bank, as you have POA it shouldn't be a problem, they should be able to tell yu who the cheques were made out to.
  8. MrsMoose

    MrsMoose Registered User

    Oct 1, 2014
    Just to say my partner has now been round to have a chat with his Dad. The good news is no financial abuse by anyone who is coming to see him, and that my father-in-law wasn't hostile.

    Slightly less good news. Some of the spending was on mail order DVDs - although he is being given lots of them by his other son - and most of these are passed on to us unwatched. He also bought some books via mail order despite the fact that poor vision and dementia means he doesn't read. Despite being on a very modest income he'd also decided to write the woman who used to come round and clean for him when he lived independently - she did a very poor job - a cheque for £100 as a Xmas gift. (His grandchildren got £50 each.) This was cashed a month or so later.

    Father-in-law has admitted some of this spending was excessive. My parther is going to keep a regular eye via on the account. It may be that the next step will have to be removing the cheque book, as I suspect my father-in-law will forget the conversation...
  9. jugglingmum

    jugglingmum Registered User

    Jan 5, 2014
    When I cleared my mum's house she had clearly developed a 'health supplement' habit and had purchased large quantities of the same thing repeatedly, both mail order and in shops. Some of the receipts were for 100s of £s. We must have skipped a 1000s of pounds worth. I was horrified at the time at such a waste of money and cross at the fact she had always bought my kids toys from charity shops - I have now discovered she has SOs set up to their accounts monthly so not so bad on that front.

    She is spending £50 a time with betterware, for cushion covers and other items she uses in her flat. As she can afford it and she is getting pleasure from these items I haven't intervened yet, but if she starts buying things in excess I will. I don't think she would understand if I said she couldn't, would consider I was being rude and bossy etc.

    With regard to presents, my FIL (no dementia) left £5k to his garage who had bodged his car badly and £2k to his handyman who was incompetent which all his children were upset about. To be fair to the handyman he had been effectively a paid carer for FILs last couple of years. None of the grandchildren ever received any presents in his lifetime and his wifeMIL now gives odd second hand things.
  10. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Mrs Moose, this is indeed a common problem and you are not alone. I'm glad you were able to solve the DVD mystery and that there weren't huge sums being extorted from your FIL. It's also good it didn't require a nasty confrontation.

    I know that conversations about finances, like those about stopping driving, are never pleasant or easy to have. Thank goodness you have PoA. I hate to say it, and it's unsolicited advice and certainly you can tell me where to stick it if you like, but it's probably time to take over the finances to prevent something catastrophic happening, as well as to provide peace of mind. I know when I found the first of the "charity" donations my mother had made, I was very panicked about what I might find. Mercifully it was only a few thousand dollars (hang on, I'll go do the conversion, a little over two thousand GBP total) and won't break the bank but it was very unwelcome as it's money that could be used for her care. Months later, I'm still terrified about what might turn up. One of the most helpful things I did was set up the account for electronic/online banking for easy access to information and bill paying online. Perhaps that would be convenient for you/your partner?

    Sorry about my dithering, and I'm very sorry about your FIL. Whatever you do, I hope you're able to get some peace of mind. Best of luck to you.
  11. TextintheCity

    TextintheCity Registered User

    Feb 20, 2011
    I sympathise. My mother lives in extra care sheltered housing and whatever cash she has just goes. She has never been able to manage a cheque book or card, which is fortunate in some ways. I do have a registered POA, so I have set up an old-fashioned account with a book for her at a building society nearby. I transfer cash to this account weekly so that she has money for daily living and incidentals (all meals are paid for, I buy her shopping online, take her shopping for clothes etc.). Sometimes she takes out the weekly allowance and spends it in a day, with nothing to show for it, not even shopping. Although she did buy an enormous fish once, which the staff kindly cooked and shared with the residents otherwise it would languish in her fridge! My mother cannot cook but thinks she does so is inclined to buy food that has to be thrown out! She keeps a semblance of independence but it is horrible to think people will take advantage of her financially. So I just do my best to limit it. I have thought of getting a camera installed - maybe that's the next step.
  12. alwaysfretting

    alwaysfretting Registered User

    Jan 1, 2015
    Relief to see I'm not alone in this! Mum spends hundreds per month on things she doesn't want or need from a mail order company because they say she is in a prize draw for lots of money. She really believes it. She has a strange sense of the value of things and what she does or doesn't need and I often have to persuade her to buy something practical. Her solicitor deemed her as fit to handle her own money so we can't be too heavy handed.
  13. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    PLEASE be very careful - I posted a while ago about an elderly neighbour who doesn't even have dementia, who has thrown away huge sums of money after being targeted by scam artists. People who order this type of mail order goods are often put on what they call 'suckers lists' - i.e. they are very vulnerable, easy prey, and these lists are sold on to all sorts of sharks and scam artists. Can you get her mail redirected so you can 'sift' it? Though I know it is very hard when someone has been deemed to have capacity.

    Not that I want to alarm you, but there is a website called Think Jessica about precisely this sort of thing - it does not make for comfortable reading - it was an eye opener for me when I was so worried about my neighbour. Thankfully her children have now had her mail redirected and have installed a system so that nobody can scam her over the phone.
  14. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    "Thankfully her children have now had her mail redirected and have installed a system so that nobody can scam her over the phone."

    This quote needs to be repeated loud and often to protect the vulnerable. Redirect mail so scammers junk mail can be dumped and buy a phone which can block out number withheld and international calls as well as any that seem dodgy. Note the security number from the back of bank cards then scrape them off so that bank details cannot be used over the phone.
  15. alwaysfretting

    alwaysfretting Registered User

    Jan 1, 2015
    This is very helpful. If I told you the name of the company you would all think them very reputable. I got in touch with them with my PoA to try to reduce the mail shots. I take mum to sainsburys myself now and she loves their clothes and this is creating a diversion so she is less interested in mail order. She also has her new craze for colouring which I got her into so I buy her new pens and colouring books. She seems to have obsessions with things and we have to find the least damaging ones. The company I mentioned is known for its thermal vests and now sells everything and the prize draw is £50k and has my mum's name on it. Their main demographic is probably the elderly.
  16. Suzanna1969

    Suzanna1969 Registered User

    Mar 28, 2015
    When I picked up Mum from her latest hospital visit the nurse warned me she'd been waving her cheque book and credit card around. There were no opportunities to use them so we're not quite sure why she was doing this. Mum is REALLY protective of her handbag and flies into a panic when she can't remember where she's left it, but I managed to grab her cheque book, which is in a leatherette cover, remove the cheques and all identifying pages, and put it back. As far as she's concerned she still has a cheque book but there's nothing in it of any value to her or, more importantly, anyone else. A kind of 'toy chequebook'.

    She never leaves the house without me or my brother these days so hopefully the danger is minimal. I've taken the credit card although I doubt she'd be able to buy anything over the phone as her vocabulary is so limited these days. I have her debit card for the weekly shop so if she queries I can make excuses. Her wallet is filled with cards anyway - all things like blood donors, Do-It-All, Tesco Clubcard etc, so she has something to keep in her bag and make her feel it's hers.
  17. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    My neighbour's daughter told me she thinks her mother has thrown away in the region of £100K to sharks and shysters. They had been warning her for ages, but she was so hooked that she would not listen, or could not hear. These vile devils are very adept at persuading the naive and vulnerable that they are on to a fantastically good thing, and friends and family trying to dissuade them are just jealous. At least that is one of their ploys.

    I think she may have been initially put on 'suckers' lists' because she was addicted to Wordsearch 'competitions' where you very conveniently phone in all your details at God knows how much per minute.
  18. Essie

    Essie Registered User

    Feb 11, 2015
    I know the company you mean alwaysfretting and they have a very bad reputation - they were taken to court a few years ago for sending out very threatening letters 'Final Demand' on the front etc. when no money was owed http://www.theguardian.com/money/2005/apr/30/consumerissues.jobsandmoney

    my Mum expressed an interest in a jumper in one of their free-in-a-magazine mini catalogues so I ordered it and was then bombarded with their junk mail including the exact version of 'Final Demand' communication they had previously been to court over!!

    With reference to cheques MrsMoose the bank can send a photo copy of any cheque your FiL has written so you would be able to see exactly who it was made out to.
  19. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    There are people saying as long as someone is deemed to have capacity they should be free to make choices even if they are unwise - I am saying that the people around them should be free to try and help them avoid making unwise choices. If someone was being fleeced by fraudsters, capacity of not, we have to prevent that from happening again. And when I noticed on a bank statement that OH was getting £100 cashback every week from a store with nothing to show for it, I did not hesitate to take his card off him, and to hell with his freedom of choice. We have to protect the people we love, and if this means hiding car keys, cheque books, credit cards or mailbox keys, so be it.
  20. MrsMoose

    MrsMoose Registered User

    Oct 1, 2014
    It's an awkward balance as far as I can see. In my father-in-law's case, we have Power of Attorney and can see what's going on with his online bank account, as well as the ability to look at cheque stubs, talk to the bank etc.

    The spending so far is a bit daft, but not (yet) dangerous. My partner has had a good conversation with him and my father-in-law has acknowledged he may need help. The point about being targeted and tempted by mail order stuff is very relevant.

    My f-i-l also likes to have quite large amounts of cash around his flat. My partner has talked him down from something like £500 to a lower figure. (On the basis that he's in sheltered accommodation where people come and go. And that he leaves his door unlocked.)

    I think if we try and fence him too quickly, he'll become secretive and angry. We're going to see how it goes. But in the longer term I don't think we are sorted.....

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