Dear Moneyist,

My mom is an otherwise sane, smart and independent woman. At 60 years old she has worked for over 40 years, has been a home owner in New Jersey for over 40 years as well and has always been on top of her bills, credit and responsibilities. About 5 years ago she became involved in a relationship with a man who I can only call a con artist.

This man has a history of theft, deception, bad credit and bad decisions. He has deceived a few employers and the Internal Revenue Service. He has been living with my mom in her current home, which she owned for about 15 years before they met. He does not pay his share of the bills, often giving her only $100 to $200 a month, but often times borrowing much more than that throughout the month.

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He has made statements to her during arguments such as, “I have a legal right to this house and should be on the deed” and “I legally have 30 to 60 days to leave if you try to kick me out.” I believe both of these statements to be a crock of bull, but I am just curious to know what his true “rights” are.

There are other ways he is emotionally abusive as well. He has never changed his residence on his driver’s license to my mom’s house and the only thing connecting him to the property is a cable bill. I am hoping to sort this out on her behalf, as she seems to be blinded from the truth. Since becoming involved with him, her credit has worsened and she seems to be struggling financially.

This is not the woman I remember.


Dear Daughter,

Your mother may need a financial adviser or an advice columnist to weigh in on her affairs, at some point. Today, she needs an intervention.

Even at 60 years of age, she is a prime candidate for elder financial abuse. She is alone and she has money. That’s an attractive combination for a would-be predator. And while most of this kind of abuse comes from family members, it also happens disproportionately to people with no spouse. Your mother hasn’t married this man, which is a small mercy. It’s not too late to act.

You need to assemble of team of trusted family members and friends, alert your mother’s bank, and hire a lawyer who may decide to do a background check. As a group (and when her boyfriend is out of the house, of course) you should sit down with your mom to explain that you’re all worried about her but that you are there to support her as she severs ties with this man.

The National Adult Protective Services Association recommends closing any joint bank accounts, establishing power of attorney (if possible) and putting a responsible person or agency in place to manage your mother’s assets.

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It sounds like your mother has made efforts to remove him from her house and her life. That’s a good sign. On some level, she knows that this man is bad news. Contact your mother’s lawyer, bank and/or adult protective services in your state. If he is not on the deed and her safety is an issue, you can also contact local law enforcement (and a lawyer) to ask advice.

If he is not on a lease and is not paying any rent or contributing to bills, then he is mistaken about his rights to live there for the next 30 to 60 days. He may believe he is a tenant, but he is merely a guest. He has far fewer rights as a potentially unwelcome guest who is helping himself to your mother’s funds, and bullying her into a such a state that she dare not ask him to leave.

Also see: My fiancé postponed our wedding, secretly bought a house—and told me I could pay rent

If she asks him to leave, and he doesn’t he could be guilty of “defiant trespassing.” You can read more about that here. In New Jersey, you can file an eviction lawsuit without any advance notice if they have refused to pay rent.

Why is your mother living with a man who treats her badly? It’s the same reason other people let ne’er-do-wells into their life, and allow them to take control: Fear and loneliness. A recent survey of 20,000 U.S. adults found that nearly half of people suffer from feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is both a health and social issue. It can also lead to difficult and upsetting situations such as this.

It could be worse. (Usually, but not always, it could be worse.) A member of the Moneyist Facebook Group posted this harrowing story about a manager at a financial firm in Hong Kong who gave 14 million Hong Kong dollars ($1.78 million) to a man who she met on a dating site. He pretended to be a British film director. But here’s the most unbelievable part: They never actually met in real life.

Some people will allow the wrong person into their life, even if a loving relationships still eludes them and the companionship they think they have is just an illusion.

Do you have questions about inheritance, tipping, weddings, family feuds, friends or any tricky issues relating to manners and money? Send them to MarketWatch’s Moneyist and please include the state where you live (no full names will be used).

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