Misappropriation (theft) continues to be a concern in Summit County for those we serve. Occurrences of alleged Misappropriations has continued to rise over the past three years from 71 instances in 2020 to 94 to date (as of Mid-October 2022).
Property and money. Of the substantiated cases of Misappropriation, property and money continue to be the main things stolen from individuals.
PPIs. The main types of Primary Persons Involved (PPI) with the theft tend to be unknown community members and staff.
Online dangers. Misappropriation being conducted via the internet has also been on the rise the past several years, and is often very difficult to identify a PPI in these cases.
TIP: Here are some tips to help avoid Misappropriation situations:
- Ensure that an individual’s funds and bank cards are secured in the home with clear accountability for who can access them. Maintain receipts of purchases, do not give out card pin numbers to everyone, and ensure that someone not directly working in the home daily does at least monthly audits of the funds for accuracy.
- Keep an accurate inventory of the individual’s belongings, especially items worth more than $50. These inventories create a valuable checklist that can be completed upon starting and ending services with an individual and should be updated proactively as needed.
- Be aware. Be aware of scams going on in the community and how to avoid them. Did you know that the AARP has a website and bi-weekly email alert designed to educate the community on current fraud scams? Visit this website for articles on fraud prevention or to sign-up for their FREE newsletter.
- Warning signs. Recognize the warning signs. Is the individual buying large amounts of gift cards they would not usually purchase? Do they say they have a significant other they met online, but have never met in person? Have they indicated they have been pressured to make purchases or give money to someone else? Online “Catfishing” has been found to be a major cause of online based Misappropriation MUIs. Catfishing is when someone lures a person into a fictional relationship by posing as a fake persona online. The non-profit organization called Cyber Smile offers free education and training on how to avoid Catfishing and other forms of online harassment that may be beneficial for individuals and their staff. Visit Cyber Smile’s website to learn more about Catfishing prevention and other online harassment prevention.
- Check credit reports. Help the individual check their credit reports to identify potential areas of unknown fraud or theft. Everyone is entitled to one free credit report check annually from the three-credit reporting agencies. These reports can be requested online for free.
- Personal Funds of the Individual Rule. Remember that per the Personal Funds of the Individual Rule (OAC 5123:2-2-07) providers, their staff, and/or their family members are not allowed to purchase items from an individual served without the transaction being authorized in writing in advance by the team.
- Policies on gifts. Lastly, as we enter the holiday season, speak with your staff about your agency’s policy on accepting gifts from those you serve. While often given with the best of intentions, many time gifts given to staff by those we serve have led to allegations of Misappropriation against staff. If your agency prohibits staff from receiving gifts, make sure they know this and are given guidance on how to handle these situations. If staff are allowed to accept gifts, make sure the value is low and there is clear documentation of what occurred to prevent allegations from being made.
If you have a situation that you feel may rise to the level of Misappropriation, please put immediate actions in place, remember to call the MUI Department at 330-634-8684 within the first four hours you become aware of a possible incident, and submit you written report to Summit DD at MUIReports@summitdd.org by 3pm the first business day after your initial discovery of the allegation.
If would like further guidance/training on how to prevent Misappropriation, please reach out to Senior Manager, MUI Wayne Hershey at firstname.lastname@example.org, or IA Analyst Matt Klink at email@example.com.