Great Women In Fraud

Episode 7 $1million Elder Financial Fraud Victim Interview

November 10, 2020 Kelly Paxton, CFE
Great Women In Fraud
Episode 7 $1million Elder Financial Fraud Victim Interview
Great Women In Fraud
Episode 7 $1million Elder Financial Fraud Victim Interview
Nov 10, 2020
Kelly Paxton, CFE

Imagine finding out that a caregiver for your parents stole $1 million.  What would you do?  How would you feel?  This is an interview with "Lena" who found out that her mother had been the victim of elder financial fraud.  The caregiver stole and was eventually sentenced but the story is so much more.  From being disappointed in both the criminal justice system and the financial system Lena tells you how it can happen to anyone.  This is an incredibly sad story but it also helps you understand and protect your family.  A huge thank you to Lena for sharing her story.  

Show Notes Transcript

Imagine finding out that a caregiver for your parents stole $1 million.  What would you do?  How would you feel?  This is an interview with "Lena" who found out that her mother had been the victim of elder financial fraud.  The caregiver stole and was eventually sentenced but the story is so much more.  From being disappointed in both the criminal justice system and the financial system Lena tells you how it can happen to anyone.  This is an incredibly sad story but it also helps you understand and protect your family.  A huge thank you to Lena for sharing her story.  

00:00:05.759 --> 00:00:17.910
Kelly Paxton: Again, we have another amazing episode today. And this is an unusual episode because we have a victim today Lena, who is a psycho therapist, whose family was
deeply, deeply affected by elder financial abuse and we're going to talk about how it happened how Lena dealt with it and kind of the Repercussions long term from this terrible, terrible crime because one thing that you're going to learn about elder financial abuse.

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Kelly Paxton: Is that I'm like a business that gets embezzled if an older person gets embezzled they don't have time to make up those funds. So it's a double whammy in that way. So let's welcome Lena Lena, thank you so much for coming on great women in fraud to talk about you and your family story.

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Lena: Thank you so much. Kelly for giving me this opportunity.

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Kelly Paxton: I think it's so incredibly important that people understand it can happen to anyone. Like I said, you're a psycho therapist, you are obviously very, very bright and
Again, that doesn't mean anything when it comes to embezzlement.

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Lena  : That's right.

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Kelly Paxton: So do you want to tell us a little bit about your story.

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Lena  : Sure. Our family had hired a caretaker initially to take care of my father.

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Lena  : And during that time she became a part of our family someone we valued very much someone we included in all family events and came to really love and upon the passing of my father we segue into the care of my mother by her and that lasted until the passing of my mother in 2012

00:02:01.830 --> 00:02:16.770
Kelly Paxton: So this woman. And this, again, another. It's like a triple whammy almost because you said she was part of your family. She was there every single day and she was, she took good physical care of your parents.

Lena  : She definitely took good physical care of my father when it came to my mother, towards the end, the care. She was receiving was questionable because my mother's
Dementia and state of confusion was increasing and consequently there was a lot less contact available with my mother, who was

00:02:43.890 --> 00:02:58.590
Lena  : Who we were told was either sleeping or didn't want to come on the phone, or one of something like that. So she was less accessible to us today. So in answer to your question. I don't know about the care at the towards the end of my mother's life.

00:02:59.610 --> 00:03:10.050
Kelly Paxton: Yeah, and that's, you know, the ones. And we'll talk more specifically about the case, but a lot of times the caregivers will create a barrier between
The family members because they know that you're watching because that's your duty to watch and if they make it difficult and you're busy too
Have a full time psychotherapy practice, you have your own life and you think you're leaving your parents with someone you know that you're paying well and should take care of them.

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Lena  : Correct, correct.

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Kelly Paxton: Um, so a little bit more about the story is that the caregiver had I'm going to call it the gambling pink flag.

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Kelly Paxton: Because it turns out, I've Googled the story and, you know, looked into it. She was quite a prolific gambler.

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Kelly Paxton: And that is sort of one of my lines in the sand. Like I wouldn't hire someone that I knew that was hanging out at a casino because casinos are built on customer losses not customer winnings and the news story does show that

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Kelly Paxton: You know she gambled quite prolifically they knew her. Well, there were you either have your parents gamblers.

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Lena  : Now, now, my mother like to play Bingo. A lot. That's about the extent of it and the few times that they did travel way back when, when they were younger, they might go to

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Lena  : New Jersey and and and gamble for a couple of days, but with we came from a very frugal family. So whatever they gamble. They went with a certain amount and they stopped at that point. So, no, it was not part of their lifestyle.

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Kelly Paxton: Yeah, yeah. So, um, I don't think she was probably taking your parents to the casino with her. Do you think

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Lena  : Actually she was taking my mom on a weekly basis to play Bingo. But that wasn't where she was a high roller

00:04:57.660 --> 00:05:00.540
Lena  : That was his that was a casino separate from The one where she had the high roller status.

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Kelly Paxton: Yeah. Oh my gosh. Now you said to me earlier because we do you know pre podcast calls that your father was very paranoid, but not vigilant and what do you mean by that.

00:05:16.260 --> 00:05:19.680
Lena  : My father had always was always extra concerned about getting ripped off having his money taken protecting his assets. So he he was not very trusting, however.

What happened was he was trusting of the wrong person. And that was his caretaker. So rather than enlighten the family as to all of the various accounts, of which there were many and the passwords, etc. He had

00:05:52.230 --> 00:06:12.210
Lena  : Shown her where all of the papers were and the passwords were. So that being said paranoid, but not vigilant, maybe is not necessarily correct. Maybe he was paranoid, but not paranoid of the person he ought to have been hard to really discern but
That's, that's how I'm trying to tease out the difference between the two of them.

00:06:18.600 --> 00:06:22.800
Kelly Paxton: Well, you know, I mean, my, my parents have passed in the last couple years and I think as you get older and you're the psycho therapist, there's
You know, you're kind of you're a little secretive because maybe you don't think you want your kids to know what money you have, because then your kids are gonna say hey why let's you know

00:06:40.050 --> 00:06:42.210
Lena  : Let's find out where the wealth now.

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Kelly Paxton: And we also had a lot of talking about the process when you actually found out and kind of can you walk us through that process. The initial finding out. I believe was by a sibling, and then it kind of unraveled

00:07:07.020 --> 00:07:21.180
Lena  : Yes, my oldest sister had shared an account at a bank that my parents also had had an account and it had come to her attention a statement of my parents had come to her attention. I don't, I am whether it was erroneously or not. I'm not sure, but that statement indicated that in a in a certain month

00:07:31.800 --> 00:07:57.750
Lena  : Over $9,900 was being withdrawn on a close to daily basis from my parents mother's existing account. And that was when it was first discovered and brought to my attention and given that I was the only family member in town. I then had to take action to rectify the situation.

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Kelly Paxton: Yeah, now I'm no banker, but there are reporting requirements for over $10,000 so clearly the caregiver knew that 9900 but again this is a pattern, personally, the bank should have caught it. And do you want to talk at all about the bank's responsibility and if anything came of that.

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Lena  : I think to say the bank should have caught it is an Understatement they were driving through the drive thru on a on an almost daily basis or once in a while.

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Lena  : My mother was being wheeled into the bank and confused state and it remains astounding to me as an understatement that nobody noticed that that was suspicious. Which leads me to believe. Maybe somebody in the bank was paid off part of it, it's hard to really tease out What went down. But what didn't go down is protecting my mother.

00:09:01.200 --> 00:09:23.400
Lena  : As an institution of a big bank should be doing. And unfortunately, nothing came of it because when we considered lawsuits against the bank. We were told by various attorneys that it would cost a significant amount of money and that the banks have a a solid and multi fold
Staff, that would be able to represent the bank and go against us and that it would be there would be no guarantee that we would win, even though this injustice to place

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Kelly Paxton: Yeah, again, now we're like on the fourth whammy because you would think that a bank, but it's like you. It's like David taking on Goliath and they've got tons of attorneys and you're going to have to pay money out of pocket, which is no longer there, because it's been stolen.

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Kelly Paxton: Yeah, we won't mention the bank, but I'm sure you will never bank there ever again and I don't either.

Lena  : Yes, I hope, I hope most of you don't. And it's unfortunate. I can't name them. But yes, it's a big bank. Let me just leave it at that.

00:10:17.190 --> 00:10:27.570
Kelly Paxton: Yeah, that and that is unfortunate. And then you also talked about, you had to be deposed and how did, how did that deposition go

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Lena  : It was horrific. It was horrific. It was it was a it was an experience of feeling victimized. It was hours of being interrogated.

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Lena  : Contradicted

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Lena  : To my words twisted, etc. With a very aggressive and as far as I'm concerned. Very unprofessional lawyer.

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Kelly Paxton: Yeah, and so you have the bank that has failed you, and then you get actually deposed and you feel victimized all over again.
This has this has changed your life obviously like financially. You were probably expecting some bit of money and you didn't, but you know you've got obviously a very good career. It's but it's still, it changes a person's life.

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Kelly Paxton: We have the monetary experience of not getting an inheritance. But what are some of the I'm going to say softer things that happened due to this horrific breach like personal

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Lena  : When you say softer. Can you tell me what that means for you.

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Kelly Paxton: And your personality so you don't have X hundred thousand dollars extra in your bank. But how did it affect you looking at the world and other people around you.

00:12:00.000 --> 00:12:14.070
Lena  : I think it, it brought me a sense of sadness that that there are people in the world that will do this to people that are compromised that are
In a situation of dependency, etc. So it saddens me. It saddens me that that happens.

It made me a lot less trusting and more cautious financially in terms of my own money and what that looks like. It was also disillusioning because

00:12:36.060 --> 00:12:43.980
Lena  : I had hoped, at my age. And at this stage in life. I could slow down a little bit, but it gave me the gift of being able to be much more compassionate to both the elderly and to the baby boomers, who are taking care of their parents and given the opportunity to dispense some wisdom and some caution. So hopefully, other people won't have to suffer in the way I have

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Kelly Paxton: Yeah, yeah. Did you feel due to the case. Did you feel unsafe at any time.

00:13:14.070 --> 00:13:16.650
Kelly Paxton: Your physical safety. Did you feel unsafe.

00:13:17.310 --> 00:13:22.230
Lena  : I did indeed I did indeed I thought there might be some

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Lena  : Ramifications to being the person in the position of having to report to make the police report and implement what needed to be done in order to bring this person.

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Kelly Paxton: Right, so kind of that looking over your shoulder, um, hasn't lessened over time.

00:13:53.640 --> 00:13:56.130
Lena  : Not significantly now. Yeah.

00:13:56.190 --> 00:13:57.570
Kelly Paxton: And that's really unfortunate.

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Lena  : It is because who, you know, life is can be so wonderful. Who needs to to have to also experience a sense of fear and over consciousness in this world when there's enough are ready to be fearful and cautious about

00:14:18.030 --> 00:14:34.470
Kelly Paxton: Well, yeah, and say someone gets their car ripped off. You know, it gets stolen or something like that, you know, the police find it or they don't find it. They do, or they don't find the you know the thief, but this is a person who has been in your home. And that violation. And they also know you and your parents probably talked about you. And so they know your weaknesses.

00:14:44.280 --> 00:14:46.710
Lena  : Oh, yes, yes. Great.

00:14:48.030 --> 00:15:02.880
Kelly Paxton: And you said your dad was a bit paranoid, but not vigilant and I don't know if paranoia is something that we can inherit, but maybe you could. I don't know. I'm paranoid. But that's kind of my business, um,

00:15:03.600 --> 00:15:16.620
Lena  : And and and I think I am, as well, at some level, and I think that's more about life experiences this not this being the last and most crushing of them.

00:15:18.690 --> 00:15:25.410
Kelly Paxton: So we skip this part at the beginning, I just realized is now. You didn't hire this woman off of Craigslist.
Or as I call it crimes list you actually went to an agency. And so by going to an agency. You're paying more  Would think that there would be an extra added layer of protection. Can you talk about that at all.

00:15:48.510 --> 00:15:54.120
Lena  : Well, that was the assumption. And so I want to also share this with the listeners.

To not assume that the agency from whom you hire that caretaker has done their due diligence. Because at the end of the day, this person had some outstanding immigration issues.
And also had a host of aliases that we knew nothing about. So the question is how well was she screened.

00:16:18.000 --> 00:16:35.460
Lena  : And in and my advice to fellow listeners is if you're going to hire someone from an agency do your own separate homework and make sure you Google them and find out as much as you can on your own prior to signing on to this agreement.

00:16:36.960 --> 00:16:44.310
Kelly Paxton: That's excellent advice. We had a caregiver for my father in law and she came as a referral and

We felt comfortable with it, but at the same time, if it would have gone south we would kind of not have anyone to go, you know, and Take action against but you did and it still didn't, you know, again, even though, America is so litigious it's hard to go through the legal system. Would you agree.

00:17:12.240 --> 00:17:35.400
Lena  : Yes, it's it's it's hard it's expensive and it's discouraging and there's no there's no sense of that the wrongs will be righted so it's a big risk and it's a lot of time and energy and emotional pain to to invest in trying to right the wrongs.

00:17:37.230 --> 00:17:45.540
Kelly Paxton: Well now, I always I always want to hope because I am Crazily enough, a very positive person and optimistic person.

Is that out of every embezzlement or, you know, elder financial abuse. There is something that is positive, you know, the lemonade out of lemons and what can you say positive that has happened from this experience for you or for the greater community.

00:18:08.220 --> 00:18:15.810
Lena  : That there was some vindication because she was eventually incarcerated for the crime.

So I guess that's the silver lining that eventually there was some dues to be paid.

But not but not for me. And so the silver lining, I think, is what I mentioned earlier that I can now give to others what wasn't given to me with the hopes that their lives won't end up in a similar place that mine did

00:18:46.830 --> 00:19:05.850
Kelly Paxton: Well, and you also said that, you know, again, I get to see you. Because we do this on zoom and I will tell you that Lena is a very, very active, because I know you go to the gym. Very, very active and this is maybe you said changed how you are looking at aging yourself.

00:19:09.240 --> 00:19:22.020
Lena  : It has what resonates for me is that I never want to be in a position where I'm going to depend on a stranger to take care of me in my final days.

00:19:23.460 --> 00:19:32.100
Kelly Paxton: Yeah, and and you also say that you know you are more. I don't want to say empathetic but you're finding ways to help other people through this

And this is a perfect example you reaching out to me to tell your story.

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Lena  : That is the reason why I did this in the first place if I could help change one person's life by what I went through. Then I then I did a good deed and that's important to me.

00:19:51.420 --> 00:19:59.940
Kelly Paxton: Oh yeah, I was listening to a podcast and I love podcasts. They've changed my life. Not only just my own podcast to do it, but I'm

The guy was saying, who's rather famous he says the best best thing that I get from this is when I get someone who reaches out and says, you made it possible for me to be able to do this.

And I think you you you know this has worked for you and you said a little bit earlier about your older sister had discovered this, but sometimes I've seen these cases where they can bring a family together, but they can also pull a family apart or it just stays at the status quo.

00:20:41.880 --> 00:20:43.590
Kelly Paxton: You want to talk about that at all.

00:20:44.940 --> 00:20:56.130
Lena  : Well, I can just say that, you know, maybe in some ways, this was a perfect storm, because there was some family dissension

And I think that's a breeding ground possibly for a person who's savvy and knowledgeable to use that in their best interests. So at the end of the day.

Lena  : Area of US sharing this feeling of being victims, but in the long run. We're back to the original

00:21:26.850 --> 00:21:31.170
Lena  : Kind of detachment from from one another so

Lena  : I don't know if that answers your question.

00:21:34.170 --> 00:21:39.300
Kelly Paxton: No. Oh yeah, it does because you know what I've seen it in families where sometimes you know

The one sibling will say, How did you not see this. The other sibling would say, Well, you know, I'm the one who's going over and doing all of this and how do you expect me so

But what you said about the caregiver and you had said earlier that your dad confided in her a lot. I have seen this personally where they use that information.

Against the immediate family members. So, you know, a parent can say, you know, my daughter. She, she's always got some money issues or, you know, her husband spends a lot. And then the caregiver is going to go, Hmm, how can I use that to you know further my scheme.

00:22:21.630 --> 00:22:26.580
Lena  : I think you're telling our story that's that's the story.

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Kelly Paxton: It's it's unfortunate because also I mean I've seen this with my own family when it got towards the end. They're lonely and we do have busy lives. I don't say where the sandwich generation. I say we are the panini generation. 

00:22:45.870 --> 00:22:46.440
Lena  : We're literally  Right, both sides. That's

I love that phrase

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Kelly Paxton: Just is we're going to kind of wrap this up. Another thing you said, and this is the thing I love is, do whatever you can before you open that door.

00:23:15.240 --> 00:23:17.190
Kelly Paxton: And I think you guys did that.

00:23:20.850 --> 00:23:23.550
Lena  : You didn't hire off on we got we did

We thought we did by making an assumption that hiring someone from an agency is being safe. But at the end of the day, I don't see us as having done that, not not not thoroughly.

But didn't know that we ought to have, you know, it's like if you don't know you should then you, how can you do it.

It's like a catch 22. So I think the door was opened out of love and appreciation and duplicity and I think that

00:24:01.170 --> 00:24:23.820
Lena  : And trust, trust and consequent duplicity so i think that you know if somebody's going to open a door. Don't be so trusting do your homework. And whatever you do, as families put aside your personal differences for the good of your parents and for the protection ultimately of your assets.

00:24:25.680 --> 00:24:35.250
Kelly Paxton: That's I've done over 1000 background investigations in my career. And when someone gets a background investigation that's quote clean so there's no marks on it.

They throw it in the bottom door and thinks that. Okay. Well, we got a good one. But what happens is life changes. And you know, I don't know about the, the person who you know victimized you
 But they might have been a really good, decent person and they go to the casino and they realize that the casino is their life and it overtakes them. So, for the first 35 years of someone's life. They can be good. They can never have stolen a candy bar and then all the sudden. So when you do that background check at the beginning, you can't just throw it in a drawer and say, we're good. Because life changes.

00:25:13.860 --> 00:25:15.450
Lena  : And people do as well.

00:25:16.020 --> 00:25:21.660
Kelly Paxton: Yeah, and I think you know that, as you know, a mental health professional more than anyone.

00:25:23.040 --> 00:25:30.450
Lena  : And housing, my, my goal is to have them change for the better. This was not for the better. That's for sure.

00:25:31.710 --> 00:25:43.020
Kelly Paxton: Wasn't. Was there anything else about the perpetrator that as you look back here. Like how did how did she do that or how did we not see that. Was there anything that you Like you're kind of like this is just a aha moment. Like, did you ever talk about how she'd gone, she loved casinos are

00:25:53.430 --> 00:26:06.990
Lena  : She just out. No, it was a very calculated presentation. Lots of emphasis on family and children. It was it was it was Quintin the quintessential manipulator.

At towards the end, I started to have some intuitive feelings that I attempted to share with the family. My sisters mainly but I'm they were largely negated. And so, in hindsight, if I had been as solely responsible for my parents. I might have been more proactive or more trusting of myself.

00:26:40.650 --> 00:26:43.770
Lena  : Then I ultimately ended up being

00:26:45.390 --> 00:26:55.500
Kelly Paxton: So this goes to another thing is now this is a woman who stole from your parents, and she had numerous children. Do you think that initially And this goes to my whole pink collar crime stuff. Do you think initially you would be more trusting of a woman with, say, four children than a man coming in to take care just based on you know how we are socialized

00:27:11.400 --> 00:27:11.910
Lena  : No.

00:27:12.450 --> 00:27:17.700
Lena  : No, no I don't, I don't necessarily. I don't know. I need to think about that.

You know, I don't think the gender would so much affect me or the number of children as much as the integrity of the character which I would have assumed again was screened out by the agency from which we hired the person

00:27:36.690 --> 00:27:44.520
Kelly Paxton: Yeah, yeah. Well, we don't have a test. Unfortunately for integrity in this call, it's it's 2020 hindsight, so

00:27:44.550 --> 00:27:47.280
Lena  : Yes, yes. Unfortunately, yes.
Yeah. But now, hopefully, as a result of us doing this. Maybe somebody out there will have foresight.

00:27:55.350 --> 00:28:12.840
Kelly Paxton: Right, right. I when I worked at the sheriff's office. This was, you know, a long time ago. We have nanny cams in our culture to watch our young kids like if they have a nanny. And I would say to the detectives. I'm like, I want to develop a granny cam and they thought I was

00:28:12.870 --> 00:28:14.340
Lena  : Wow,  Great idea.

00:28:25.020 --> 00:28:27.030
Kelly Paxton: Well, it didn't go anywhere but

00:28:27.180 --> 00:28:30.690
Lena  : Well, don't take don't drop the ball. Go for it.

00:28:31.440 --> 00:28:43.530
Lena  : That's a fabulous. If I, if we had had that I would have known that there was no one in the house, watching my mother for hours when she was out there at the casino down the block.

00:28:44.310 --> 00:28:48.360
Kelly Paxton: Yeah, we can use technology for good. I mean,

00:28:48.450 --> 00:29:00.090
Kelly Paxton: Real. Yeah, yeah. Um, so I if you'd have to be careful where you put the granny cams and everything like that. I guess you wouldn't put it in like a teddy bear you maybe put it in.I don't know, a piece of China or something.

00:29:03.480 --> 00:29:08.250
Lena  : So I don't know. Let's start with developing it, and then we can decide where we can put it

00:29:10.020 --> 00:29:20.550
Kelly Paxton: Yeah, so I Lena, I just want to thank you so much for being, you know, first off for reaching out to me and then for we've had a couple of conversations and

00:29:21.420 --> 00:29:43.710
Kelly Paxton: And I've been through this and I've seen it and you're open openness and again I know there's never the lemonade out of lemons, but you you have done that and I think because this happened to you, which it shouldn't have happened to you, you're not going to be negative, Nelly.

00:29:45.060 --> 00:29:45.540
Lena  : Correct.

00:29:48.750 --> 00:30:06.270
Lena  : And so I invite you know you to contact me or if people with similar people go through similar things and need someone to talk to. Please know that you can feel free to refer them to me and I'd be more than happy to help anyone who needs it out there.

00:30:07.440 --> 00:30:15.150
Kelly Paxton: Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. This has been this is an unusual episode because we don't get victims, very often.

00:30:15.420 --> 00:30:29.010
Kelly Paxton: Coming through, but there are a lot of similarities and victims, whether it's a garden variety embezzlement or financial elder abuse in the financial elder abuse cases are so devastating on so many levels. So we appreciate it.

00:30:30.090 --> 00:30:37.410
Kelly Paxton: Great women in fraud, we, we love these cases. Not that they happen but that we can help people. So thank you.

00:30:38.010 --> 00:30:39.090
Lena  : And thank you.