Vulnerable Adults at Risk of Fraud

An “adult at risk” is:

  1. an adult who has needs for care and support,

  2. is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and

  3. as a result of those needs is unable to protect themselves against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.

Vulnerabilities leading to an adult being at risk can take many varied forms. The vulnerability may be permanent or temporary. A person may be vulnerable due to their personal circumstances (for example having a mental health illness or cognitive impairment) or they may be vulnerable due to the circumstances they are in at the time of the incident (for example a person who has been bereaved and is grieving, or a person who is experiencing loneliness and isolation).

The following factors may contribute to an adult being vulnerable to risk:

  • Family Circumstances (for example bereavement or isolation);

  • Personal Circumstances (for example drug/alcohol misuse);

  • Intimidation (fear or distress)

Look at: Section 42(1), Care Act 2014

If they can make and exercise their own informed choices, free from duress, pressure and undue influence of any sort, and are able to protect themselves from abuse, neglect and exploitation; they may not be at risk. A person with the mental capacity to make their own decisions can also be at risk.

There are several forms of abuse and neglect:

  • Financial Abuse: having money or other property stolen, being defrauded, being put under pressure in relation to money or other property and having money or other property misused. 

  • Psychological: Including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, forced marriage, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks. 

  • Sexual: Including rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not consented or could not consent or was pressured into consenting to. 

  • Neglect or acts of omission: Including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care of educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has an “Economic Safeguarding Project”; a nationwide initiative set up to highlight instances of Financial Abuse against Vulnerable Adults.