Jonathan Crimmins

Jonathan Crimmins

“Trust everybody, but cut the cards.” You might remember that old line by Finley Peter Dunne. You want to see the good in people or things. You want to believe that you will not be taken advantage of by anyone. You want to believe, but you know that would be foolish.

I bring this up as a result of the news of the last week or so. There have allegedly been two rather high-profile thefts of money in the area. One from a long-time fair association that has nearly drained their accounts, and another involves the reported victimization of an elderly Maine couple.

Both alleged thefts should cause each of us to look more closely at our accounts, at our life savings. Both examples should be a beacon’s light that more attention is needed not only to personal holdings but those of organizations we may belong to in the community.

I have been involved with many organizations over the years. Some have had substantial accounts from which money was drawn for different activities. Never did I, or someone else, have sole access to the accounts or ledgers. We have always had numerous people who oversaw the books and made sure that the numbers matched on both sides of the equation. It was smart business then and it seems even smarter now.

In the case of the Litchfield Farmer’s Club, it has been alleged that nearly 100 percent of the group’s funds have been stolen. Gone! The club believes they know where the money has gone and who has stolen it but any investigation is sure to take some time and will involve a great many questions.

Considering that this year’s fair starts early next month, time, like money, is not something they have much of right now.

It is not like this is a fly by night group. The club has been in existence for more than 150 years and has held a fair every year for that amount of time. This is a group that has had things figured out, or so they thought. The truth is if something like this can happen to an organization that is almost as old as the state of Maine, it can happen to anyone.

The other case, one involving an elderly couple, is even more egregious. The investigation from earlier this month detailed how the owner of a senior living complex in Brunswick allegedly stole $588,000 from a couple. More than a half a million dollars from one couple in little more than a year.

According to the National Adult Protective Service Association, elder financial abuse is one of the fastest growing crimes against seniors. Even more troubling is the knowledge that these sorts of crimes, while somewhat common, often go unreported by the victim. In not reporting the crime the senior is victimized a second time.

Thankfully, despite the advanced age of the couple, they were able to report the financial loss and the investigation ensued.

How many more in the area could be enriching themselves at the hands of those they entrust for their safekeeping or assistance? How many are victimized by those who they have trusted with their savings? Their life’s gains?

If you know someone who has handed over control of their money to someone else, or if you are involved in an organization where only one person has access to the records, please heed the warnings of these two cases and seek assistance. Seek thorough oversight. You do not want to be made aware of a problem tomorrow that has been brewing since yesterday.

Remember, you have to cut the cards.

That’s my two cents…

Jonathan Crimmins can be reached at j_ [email protected]

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