Malcolm Ramsey, who lives in the Loving Care Assisted Living Facility in Tampa, went through a serious financial change over the holidays. The 55-year old man, who rarely got visits from relatives, was suddenly getting one visit after another from his “loved ones.”
The nursing staff, according to TampaBay.com, started noticing the man coming home with bags and bags filled with items from TJ Maxx and other department stores. His walls were covered with stacks of shoe boxes as well.
It turns out that Ramsey had won the lottery. He didn’t win the big Powerball lottery, but he won $403,288, enough to change a person’s life forever. There were two options: $500 per week for life or a lump sum payment. He took the lump sum and now it’s practically gone.
The man spent all the money in just four weeks. He is also in danger of losing his government benefits because he received so much money at one time.
Judge Lauren Laughlin says that the state should have had something in place to stop itself from giving so much money to one person in a lump sum.
“You clearly can’t be giving this kind of money to people who have had the right to manage their own financial affairs removed,” Laughlin said to Tampabay.com. “You would like it to be a Forrest Gump time, good for you, but not with $170,000 walking out the door in 30 days.”
Ramsey has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and doesn’t take medication. An adult protective services worker noted that, in 2002, “It is your petitioner’s belief that Mr. Ramsey is incapable of caring for himself and/or his finances.”
After the adult protection services worker deemed the man to be incapable of managing his own money, Aging Solutions, a non-profit organization, was put in charge of his finances. In the home where he currently resides, he is allowed to come and go as he pleases and is given $54 per month as an allowance. He was a regular customer of the Quick Pick Gas station, where he regularly bought lottery tickets.
After winning $1,000 last year, the man spent a lot of his money trying for the biggest payoff.
“He was chasing that ticket,” the owner of the store says. “He used to buy that ticket all time.”
When he won, the owner, Ajah Shah, says that there was no emotional reaction.
“There was no emotion on his face at all,” Shah said. “People normally are very excited, jumping around.”
When the man received his $302,446 after taxes, he went and got a cashier’s check from Wells Fargo, where he’d opened an account. He then cashed the check at an Amscot store that charged him $14,000 in check cashing fees for just one transaction.
Ramsey received $19,678 in cash and 268 money orders worth $1,000 each. He then went shopping consistently, spending as many as 21 money orders in one day. He bought an $8,000 TV on Black Friday and 40 Timex Watches for his relatives.
The people at the facility became concerned when this man who’d received so few visits suddenly had relatives coming to see him in droves. That’s when they called his guardian.
“It was people who were around that had never been around before,” says Lona DiCerb, director of operations at Aging Solutions. “That’s troublesome when family he’d never spoke of prior began coming around.”
Police were able to recover some funds, but most of the money is gone. Anyone found to have taken advantage of Ramsey during the ordeal may be subject to criminal charges. It is illegal to exploit a disabled or elderly person in Florida, which has a large senior population. Violating this law can lead to up to 30 years in prison.
Financial Juneteenth lessons from this story:
1) If you ever come into a lot of money, don’t tell your relatives. They will be the first ones to guilt trip you into giving everything away
2) Lottery tickets are typically a horrible investment. Avoid them like the plague.
3) Visiting loved ones who are in homes for the elderly is one of the most important investments you can ever make. But if you want your children to visit you when you are older, you have to invest in them while they are young.
4) Avoid check cashing places. That’s a serious drain on your finances.
This is serious