Miami Woman Accused of Stealing Thousands in Reverse Mortgage Proceeds

A Miami woman is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a woman with a reverse mortgage, for whom she cared, according to a local news report.

Olga Hidalgo-Gato, 46, of Hollywood, Florida, was arrested Thursday on charges of grand theft on a victim over 65 and exploitation of the elderly, according to Local10, a Post Newsweek station. Hidalgo-Gato had been caring for the victim during the months when $35,000 allegedly was taken from Social Security and reverse mortgage proceeds.

The stolen money came from the woman’s life savings, her monthly Social Security payments and funds from a reverse mortgage, according to the report. Hidalgo-Gato allegedly wrote herself checks from the 75-year-old victim’s account.

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Both charges are second-degree felonies.

Read the Local10 report.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • What this exposes is not just the vulnerability of seniors but the increased risk to seniors with too much ease in accessing cash.  Most seniors have had little need to safeguard their assets over the years.  Only they or their spouses have generally had access to them until later life.

    As people age and become more reliant on others, they become more exposed to potential crime but have not had the training to safeguard their sources to cash.  The proceeds available through a reverse mortgage can intensify the temptation of some caregivers to take cash.

    Yes, the reverse mortgage does not create the problem but it can intensify the potential for loss.  How to solve this issue is not simple.  It is NOT even our job.  However, we as an industry must be sensitive to the issue and try to help senior advocates and law enforcement mitigate the problem.  If we appear insensitive to it, in the minds of those who are trying to solve the problem, we become in their eyes part of the problem.

    At times originators and counselors can sense problems but the place where the real concern lies is in servicing.  What servicing needs is better guidelines and more objective standards by which it can report suspected problems and with guidance on whom to report that information to.  

    This is not a simple problem with easy resolution. 

    • Bobby Socks,

      All things being equal if I were a bank robber, I would rather rob a bank with $200,000 in it than $10,000, especially if the punishment is the same.  Now for the really tough question:  which bank has the greater potential for loss?  Let me try it another way. 

      To put it on your level, let’s look at that over eater who lives in your house.  When is the potential for greater loss to you if you bought the groceries, when the refrigerator is full of food and you are out of the house for 10 hours or when it is almost empty except for a 8 ounce bottle of tap water?

  • Having money in banks increases their potential for being robbed. The Reverse Mortgage industry can’t appear insensitive to this important issue.

    Providing money to seniors for home repair make them more vulnerable to home repair scam artist.  Of course the Revese Mortgage proceeds didn’t cause the problem but is obviously making it worse. We need to do something.

    I concur, some people should stop talking.

    • So you are saying that if the woman did not have the reverse mortgage, her loss would have been the same or larger?  

      If the repairs needed to be done anyway what does a reverse mortgage have to do with the issue?

      Are your comments really RMthoughts?

  • This Senior was not a victim because she had a Reverse Mortgage but because she was deceived and robbed.  Do you think a Social Security blog or news source would pick up this story just because some of this lady’s social security money was stolen? Elder fraud is the topic not Reverse Mortgage. We need to think before reposting these articles because of the potential damage to the industry overall.

  • It seems it is not very popular to discuss increased exposure in this thread.  But on this point we are taking the wrong position.

    The Certified Senior Advisor organization takes a different stance.  What they do is provide seminars on such topics so that seniors have  a way to see that CSAs are interested in not just getting more money to seniors but also they are interested in helping them keep it.  For many this draws larger crowds than they normally get and makes the seniors more receptive since it shows the presenter is concerned about them.

    Can we take a well understood problem and make it into a positive statement about our industry and its care for seniors?  Why not hold a joint seminar with someone who is an expert on the subject and discuss ways of protecting against loss?  Most elder care attorneys know this subject well or may be able to recommend speakers.

    For years it has seemed that when a topic like this arises, most commenters seem like they want to be ostriches.  If we can use it positively, why not? 

    One of my customers was a volunteer investigator working with the FBI on elder abuse.  He is not the only person like this.  Why not use off duty local police?  

    We are missing a real opportunity. 

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