How to report financial abuse of a vulnerable person

read time: 3 mins

Financial abuse by attorneys is unfortunately becoming increasingly common. It can involve:

  • Attorneys (or deputies) abusing their position of power for their own financial gain;
  • Theft, misuse or misappropriation of property, assets or money;
  • Pressuring someone to give up control of their finances or to make gifts;
  • Taking out loans in the victim’s name

As has been widely reported, the actress Margaret Wright (better known as Meg Wynn Owen) who appeared in ‘Love Actually’, was swindled out of her life savings by her friend Brian Malam, who she had entrusted to manage her property and financial affairs.

Ms Wright suffered from dementia and had mental capacity issues. She resided in a care home in her later years. She had appointed her long-time friend Brian Malam to manage her property and financial affairs on her behalf under a lasting power of attorney (LPA). Sadly, Mr Malam abused his position and used Ms Wright’s finances for his own personal gain. 

Mr Malam was sentenced to 32 months in prison as a result of his actions. 

What to do if you suspect financial abuse of a vulnerable person by an attorney:

If someone you know appears to be a victim of financial abuse you should take action immediately. If there is an attorney or deputy, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) must be notified. The OPG is responsible for investigating concerns and allegations of abuse against an attorney or deputy.

Reporting your concerns to the Office of Public Guardian:

Anyone can report a deputy or attorney to the OPG if they have concerns about their actions. You can report your concerns to the OPG by using their form OPG130 or by contacting the OPG directly at:

Office of the Public Guardian, PO Box 16185, Birmingham, B2 2WH
0115 934 2777

You should include as much of the following information you have available when contacting the OPG:

  • the donor’s details (including full name, address and date of birth)
  • the date you first noticed the concern
  • any evidence you have to support the concern – for example, financial records
  • what you know about the donor’s mental capacity, including copies of any mental capacity reports or the names of those who might have these
  • your own contact details

If the OPG is satisfied that there appear to be reasonable grounds to suggest that the best interests of the donor are not being met, they will carry out an investigation into the actions of the attorney or deputy, and if appropriate, action may be taken against the attorney/deputy.

Social Services

If there is no deputy or attorney in place, you can still raise a Safeguarding Alert with the local Social Services Safeguarding Adults team, who should investigate allegations of financial abuse and, where appropriate, involve the relevant authorities.

How we can help

Our team of specialist lawyers have extensive experience of dealing with a range of different circumstances where there is a dispute as to the management of a person’s property and financial affairs. We routinely assist with:

  • Reports to the Office of Public Guardian and to Social Services
  • Applications to the Court of Protection, including applications to appoint a deputy, for a declaration as to the vulnerable person’s capacity and for the removal of attorneys and deputies
  • Claims for the recovery of funds and/or the setting aside of transfers of property (before and after death)
  • The resolution of financial abuse claims by alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, early neutral evaluation and joint settlement meetings

For more information, you can contact us on freephone 0800 0931336, or by email for a no obligation chat to see how we can help you.

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