Thieves target those with developmental disabilities - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Thieves target those with developmental disabilities

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

With the slow economy, there is a disturbing trend against those with developmental disabilities.

According to the state of Ohio, thefts, fraud and scams against those who can't protect themselves are on the rise. Identity theft is the most common occurrence and that usually leads to the person's bank accounts.

"It's sad that somebody would choose to victimize somebody a little bit less able to take care of themselves," said Jenny Dexter with Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services, the local watchdog group.

According to the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities there were 961 reported thefts against the disabled in 2010. A year later, the number jumped to 1,459. An increase of 52 percent.

And sometimes the thief is the disabled person's own family member.

"In a lot of cases that's what happens the most is people who knows the person, who are responsible for overseeing their funds," said Dexter. 

"They're horrible people," said Debbie Mitchell with Toward Independence, Inc., a private organization that manages group homes. "I don't know how they sleep at night."

The thieves are going after bank account information, including pin numbers, as well as medications such as narcotics and psychotropic.

"We have drug counts that are done every shift. The shift coming on with count the medications as the shift that's working prior leaves to ensure that everything's there and accounted for," said Mitchell. 

As long as they are not the one doing the stealing, the best help for those with a disability comes from someone who is trustworthy.

"They can pay close attention to the person telling them about finances or someone says to them I'm going to this tax preparation service, or something that doesn't seem quite right, its good for people who close to the person with the disability to watch out," said Dexter.

If you suspect someone who has a disability is being targeted, please call the county's abuse and neglect hotline at 513-794-3308. The hotline is open 24/7.

For more information about protecting yourself and your family from fraud and scams, visit Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann's web site at http://www.hamiltoncountyohio.gov/fraud.

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