Watch Out! There are schemers and thieves in every business and family. Yes, you may have known them for years and years, but did you know most embezzlements in the USA happen with a power of attorney form? Yes, my own father’s business got $150,000 stolen over the course of 5 years because he assigned the office secretary a general power of attorney form (download here), which allows someone to have access to all your financial powers, instead of a limited power of attorney (download here) which allows someone to have power over a single act.
Why did my father need her to have power of attorney?
Because he needed someone to authorize the certified mail that came in, he still runs a commercial real estate office in Maine so he had important legal documents coming in everyday, little did he know that when the bank checks were coming in, she would nab a few and write them out to herself. She got so cocky about it she even went down to the bank and requested an ATM card. Which proved to be her downfall, because the bank snaps photos of everyone that makes transactions today and when my father finally realized something was wrong with his accounts one day, he requested those photos (because he was out of town during one of the bank transactions).
How Come She Did not Get Caught For So Long?
With power of attorney you are allowed to sign the person’s name on the check. Even though you are supposed to write POA underneath, a bank teller that is fresh out of college is most likely not going to notice. She eventually did get caught, and had to serve 4 years in prison. It’s weird to see someone you have known all your life be taken away like that, but this does not just happen to our family or to a few people across the United States, fraud with power of attorney, especially with the baby boomer generation getting older, is running rampent.
Recently, the joplin globe reported a story of a woman stealing $276,000 dollars from someone at her business by forging a power of attorney form. She was trying to get away with it using a wire and was sentenced to 63 months in prison.
You must trust your attorney in fact, and if you can’t, it’s worth the mail sitting a few extra days. If you have any other questions about power of attorney, feel free to ask one of our members at our power of attorney forum.