KANSAS CITY, Mo. — We know taking advantage of the elderly’s money is morally wrong, but in one man’s case, is it illegal? What can someone do when alleged loan sharks are eliciting money from the elderly?
41 Action News called several agencies, but no one seemed to be able to help 82-year-old Harold Able.
“I think I’m 82. I think so. Sometimes I wonder!” Able said while eating his only meal of the day: meatloaf, au gratin potatoes and corn with bread and a doughnut.
Able is a veteran, discharged from the United States Army in 1957.
He sticks to his routine. You can find him at the Wilhelmina Gill Service Center in Kansas City, Kansas every day around 11 a.m. for lunch.
Holding up a milk carton, Able says, “This is the only thing I’m addicted to. Sweet milk, malted milk, soda pop,” and took a swig.
He’s sharp for his age. And he’s very aware that he’s months behind on his rent and about to be evicted from Crossline Towers Apartments.
Able says he’s worried, but might have a nephew to live with. He hasn't gotten a hold of the nephew yet.
Able is on a fixed income. He brings home around $1,000 a month in social security and retirement checks.
He says he started lending out money to random passersby and borrowing money from two men to get him through the month. These two men hang around the outside of Crossline Towers, Able says.
Able says the men charged high-interest rates on the small loans. Pretty soon the loans got out of control and he got behind on his rent.
When asked how much the total amount of the loan was, Able responded, “Up in the thousand dollars.”
“Rent is $333 a month. So how is he five months in the rears now with no money and still owing people money? That’s kind of the question. So you know he’s being taken advantage of,” Jae Edgar Bennett with Street Medicine KC said.
Bennett told 41 Action News about Able’s situation after meeting him at one of Street Medicine’s mobile health clinics. A nurse detected early signs of dementia, which troubled Bennett even more.
Bennett said he called the Area Agency of Aging to report abuse and hasn't heard back from anyone. He took Able to the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, but says they were turned away.
True to his generation, though, Able insists the blame falls on him.
“I shouldn't have gotten it started. They didn't put a gun on me and force me,” Able said.
Kansas Legal Services sees many low-income elderly folks fall victim to financial exploitation in Wyandotte County.
“If the loan itself is otherwise legal, if the interest-rate is not usurious, then aside from getting him out from under the burden with bankruptcy, there may not be a whole lot that can be done, unfortunately,” Project Director for Kansas Legal Services Leland Cox said.
Under Kansas law, the maximum legal interest-rate is 10 percent, when no other rate was agreed upon.
Able says he doesn't remember how much the interest rate is but does remember one thing: “I do remember that I paid them, so I don’t owe them now.”
Barbara Summers, the manager at Crossline Towers, cried while talking to 41 Action News about Able’s situation. She confirmed he is in the process of being evicted.
Summers says she wishes she could do something about the two men eliciting money from Able, but because it all takes place outside of the building, her hands are tied.
41 Action News knows the names of the two men but wasn't able to track them down.