For many families, the choice to move a loved one into a senior living center is about being safer rather than living alone at risk of falls or worse. But few might suspect that while trying to actually protect their loved one, he or she is put at risk of a staff member who would prey on vulnerable residents.
Sadly, that seems to be exactly what happened in this case where a Birmingham, Alabama, senior living center worker is accused of going on a huge spending spree for years using a resident's bank accounts and credit cards. This month, an Alabama U.S. Attorney’s Office charged the employee with stealing more than $335,000 from the resident’s bank and credit accounts. Investigators say the scam ran for more than two years before the accused identity thief was finally caught.
The victim in this case had no immediate family, few visitors and an out-of-town friend who acted with power of attorney, but was not actively involved in the victim's daily care or finances. Court records indicate the employee befriended the victim and began helping her with transportation, errands, bill payments and other financial issues, and eventually gained trust along with access to the victim’s purse, mail, financial statements, checkbook, and debit and credit cards.
The senior center employee apparently maintained her relationship with the victim while working at the home as the victim’s mental and physical condition declined. The victim became incapable of managing her financial affairs, according to the charges. But besides helping the vulnerable victim, criminal charges accuse the former employee of helping herself hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, merchandise and trips.