To: 25/07/2022 19:22
Unscrupulous exploiters pretend to be caring, isolate the elderly and steal their wealth. search by Mainz report show that the sums at stake are enormous. Experts ask politicians for countermeasures.
On March 12, 2020, investigators from the Berlin State Criminal Police Office discovered the body of 84-year-old Klaus Jesse in the hallway of a house in Berlin-Lichtenrade. It quickly becomes clear that he was brutally killed. His daughter Sabine Haupt had a suspicion immediately after the crime: “It was immediately clear to me that it was Mrs. Nerma.”
Nerma had entered the house as a nurse for the sick father’s wife. After his death, Nerma then increasingly took over the father. The woman, who had always avoided being photographed, was close to 50 and “very attractive”. And it worked for 80-plus-year-old Jesse. “I think he fell in love.”
Sabine Haupt immediately suspected the legacy hunter as the perpetrator.
A signature is the key to wealth
Just two months after his wife’s death, Jesse gave Nurse Nerma a general power of attorney. With just one signature, she had access to her entire fortune. This also included Sabine Haupt’s parental home.
There, Nerma began to isolate her father and no longer allowed contact with the family. She tells us: “In 2018, I stood in front of the house several times and rang the doorbell, but no one opened it.” She didn’t see her father for a year and a half. She later found out that Nerma had arranged for the house to be sold: “She said she didn’t want to deal with the heirs. She wants something of her own.”
Less than a five-minute drive away, Nerma had bought a house with her father’s money – in her name. Jesse only had the right to reside there.
It was only a few months later that the father realized that he had been exploited – he contacted his daughter again and told her of the numerous harassments: physical attacks, insults and threats. “He was really scared to death at the end,” she says.
Classic Case of Stealth Legacy
The girl advises him to file a complaint with the LKA Berlin. Chief Inspector Annett Mau specializes in financial abuse of the elderly. She takes care of Jesse. For her, a classic case of stealth inheritance: “The abuser did what we call the classic pattern. She offered herself. She actually provided help – in the short term. Then she immediately left fall off the facade and tried to get him out of the house to urge him, because the house was burdened with the right of occupancy, wanted to get rid of him.”
Given the legal situation in terms of criminal prosecution, feels abandoned by the legislator: Annett Mau.
And their investigations show it: Jesse is not the only victim of Nerma. “We were able to reconstruct that in many cases it already has. She is an absolutely classic repeat offender,” explains the inspector.
Although the police are already investigating, any help comes too late for Klaus Jesse. On March 10, 2020, Nerma goes to Klaus Jesse. In her hand, she has a stick-shaped object. She punches the old man several times in the head and hits him massively in the chest with her fist. He collapses and finds himself in a pool of blood in the hallway. The police then pieced together this sequence of events.
Seven months later, the Berlin District Court sentenced Nerma to 9.5 years in prison for this act. She is silent in the procedure and also the request for Mainz report she does not answer.
Legacy scams are legal in Germany
Commissioner Mau says she’s touched that she can’t protect Jesse: “It touches me, because I want to help, I want to protect, but that’s not possible, not with this legal situation.” Inheritance trafficking has never been a punishable offense and therefore it is legal.
Claudia Mahler, expert at the UN Human Rights Council for the interests of older people, also calls for a change in the legal situation. Other countries protect their seniors much better: “In the USA it is regulated like this, if the trust has been deceived, played with feelings or if there is coercion behind it, that I can cancel the transaction or withdraw proxy.” “Undue influence” – inappropriate influence – is the name of the legal institute there. In Germany this is not possible.
Politicians call for more protection for the elderly
Two years ago, the FDP had campaigned massively for the protection of the elderly against financial exploitation, then still in opposition. In two small inquiries to the Federal Government and a request to the Bundestag, the current Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann, together with the FDP parliamentary group, called for a package of measures against the financial exploitation of the elderly. This request was rejected by the Bundestag at the time.
In the meantime, the subject has also come up in other policy areas: in the autumn, the conference of ministers of justice of the federal states asked the Federal Ministry of Justice to examine whether “criminal legislative changes” were required. Bavarian Justice Minister Georg Eisenreich (CSU) criticizes that the current legal situation gives “protection gaps in the area of criminal prosecution as well as in the abuse of power of attorney”. And these gaps in protection must be filled, he asks.
The traffic light parties also agree in the coalition agreement: “We will protect older people from discrimination and financial abuse – including through powers of attorney.”
The Minister of Justice does not see the need to act
But as justice minister, Buschmann clearly rejected protecting the elderly. On request from Mainz report explains his ministry: “The examination showed that it is not necessary to modify the penal code. The penal code already contains enough options to appropriately punish property and property crimes to the detriment of the elderly.
The Bavarian Minister of Justice criticized this clear refusal: “I cannot understand the refusal, neither the result nor the reasoning convinces me.”
LKA commissioner Mau also does not understand this decision: “We receive calls from all over Germany from desperate parents and from people themselves affected. And basically I have to say to everyone: I cannot not help them.”