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Overview of the Intersection Between Criminal Law and Persons With Disabilities
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Overview of the Intersection Between Criminal Law and Persons With Disabilities

According to public data, more than 50 million people are categorized as disabled and that number is only expected to increase in the near future. For example, the Social Security Administration estimates that people in the workforce who are in their 20s face a 1-in-4 chance that they will not be able to work until retirement age because of a disability.w

Unfortunately, many scam artists have decided to target this group in an effort to defraud them of money, government benefits, and personal property. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, approximately 1-in-20 elderly adults report having suffered some form of financial mistreatment or having suffered outright financial fraud. However, financial scams occur much more often than what is reported. For example, some studies estimate that only 1-in-44 cases of financial fraud are reported to law enforcement officials.

Being the victim of a financial scam can ruin someone's life, especially someone who is disabled and living on a fixed income. Even a slight disruption in their finances can risk losing their home, their government benefits, their credit, and other vital assets.  

Examples of Scams Targeting People with Disabilities

This is a general overview of the common scams that are perpetrated against people with disabilities.

  • Credit Card Fraud
  • Identity Theft
  • Door-to-Door Snake Oil Salesmen
  • Work-from-Home Scams
  • Fraudulent Medical Claims
  • 419 Scams (a.k.a. the email from a Nigerian Prince scam)

With all of these scams and fraudulent activities, it is absolutely critical to know what to look for and how to combat the scammer. This is why it makes sense to talk to a fraud charge attorney to discuss your legal options.

Overview of Fraud Laws

In general, New York fraud laws are codified in Article 190 of the NY Penal Law. In addition, there is a New York Statute known as the Deceptive Practices Act (DPA). The DPA declares that deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce or in the furnishing of any service in this state are unlawful.

The DPA is focused on fraudulent business activities. If you want to pursue a claim against an individual, you will likely need to file a claim under New York common law. In order to prevail in a fraud claim, you need to show that you relied on a misrepresentation made by the individual and that reliance proximately caused you economic harm. There is also a common law tort known as negligent misrepresentation (i.e. accidental fraud). With this common law claim, you may not need to prove that the bad actor intended to mislead you.

Image credit: Arkady Bukh

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