Blum is an internationally recognized expert on the
evaluation of undue influence and manipulation tactics, especially
those used in financial exploitation of the elderly. A
sought-after expert witness and litigation consultant, Dr. Blum works
on complex and high-profile cases across the US, Canada, and Europe.
Attorneys and individuals
involved in related civil or criminal litigation often depend on his
insights to maximize investigation and litigation
Q: What is
Influence" is a legal term that refers to excessive or inappropriate
manipulation in which a person, or institution, takes advantage of
someone weaker. It
is sometimes described as a deceptive means to control another person's
does “undue influence” typically manifest itself?
Usually we see a situation
where a person in a position of responsibility and trust, such as a
"new best friend," lover, or confidant, misuses their position to
benefit themselves to the detriment of the victim or the victim’s
estate. Sometimes, the offender may be a professional such as an
attorney, accountant, stockbroker, physician, or nurse.
are the warning signs of undue influence?
After establishing some
type of relationship, the perpetrator
finds out who the victim confides in, and who visits, writes or calls
the victim. Then the isolation process begins. Offenders try to create
situations that keep the intended victim away from confidants and
advisors. Sometimes they intercept
phone calls and mail, stop people from visiting, or take the victim on
an unexpected trip. The purpose is
always to get the victim away from their normal environment, friends,
and family. If the intended victim is already isolated, the offender
will take advantage without having to create new situations.
Of course, this is much
easier if the victim is also physically or mentally impaired.
What happens next?
The offender uses emotional
manipulation or takes advantage of some pre-existing weakness to get
the victim to do what the perpetrator desires.
Who are the most likely victims?A:
The most obvious
are people who are lonely, depressed, or anxious; those who want to
please others; and those who have some type of physical or mental
impairment. Less obvious are people who are overly stubborn, arrogant,
or biased. Criminal predators also
know that these people are also often easy to manipulate.
What about people in second-
Elderly who are part of
blended families are at risk because there can be a great deal of
animosity among family members. These cases often come to our attention
after an elderly person has died and a will or trust is being
can people do to protect themselves or loved ones?
Combat the isolation. Get
more involved in the person’s life and care, and get others more
involved. Consider contacting Adult
Protective Services or law enforcement. If
litigation is being considered, have your attorney hire someone
specifically trained in elder abuse, undue influence and mental
capacity to evaluate the situation. Don't rely on a general physician,
psychiatrist, or psychologist. Also,
for legal, technical, and ethical
reasons, these evaluators should only be hired through attorneys.
resources are available to people who would like to know more?
Review the information on this web site, watch the video lectures, and download the worksheets - especially the "Undue Influence Worksheet." For other
resources, contact the National Center on Elder Abuse,
which has an excellent web site at www.ncea.aoa.gov, your
local Area Agency on Aging, Adult Protective Services, District
Attorney, or Attorney General's Office.