Houman Fakhimi

Fullerton Elder Fraud Alleged Against Caregiver

A caregiver is accused of theft, identity theft and elder fraud in Fullerton, after police said she reportedly took advantage of at least eight elderly people who were in her care.

Fullerton Criminal Defense Attorney Houman Fakhimi understands that among the items allegedly stolen were jewelry, credit cards and a championship ring from a retired Major League Baseball player. The defendant reportedly worked for a rehabilitation center in Fullerton, and also provided in-home care.

Authorities were reportedly tipped off when fraudulent transactions were discovered on a couple of the elderly folks' credit card accounts. Using surveillance video at the locations where the purchases took place, including a CVS drug store, the alleged victims were able to identify their caregiver as the suspect.

Police are still searching for more victims in the case. So far, all of those who were allegedly conned were in their 80s and 90s.

The defendant was arrested last month and subsequently released on $25,000 bail.

A simultaneous investigation has been launched by the California Department of Public Health, which licenses certified nursing assistants.

Although cases like this can occur any time of year, we tend to see an increasing prevalence of them during the holidays, as other individuals tend to visit more during this time and may be prone to then taking a closer look at their older relatives' finances.

There are essentially two crimes of note here: theft and elder fraud.

The thefts will be prosecuted as any other would, dependent upon the value of the items stolen. California Penal Codes 484 and 488 hold that theft of property up to $950 is a petty theft, which is a misdemeanor offense, unless it is the second offense, in which case it may be charged as a felony under California Penal Code 666. Grand theft, as defined under California Penal Code 487, is the theft of property valued at more than $950, and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.

The crime of elder fraud, as well, can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, at the prosecution's discretion. The crime falls under elder abuse statutes, which are found in California Penal code 368.

Often when we think of elder abuse, we think of actual, physical harm. However, financial exploitation is considered a form of elder abuse, and it may come into play anytime the victim of the crime is older than age 65.

Most often in these cases, it is the caregiver or caregivers who face such allegations. Sometimes, that caregiver is even related to the alleged victim. There are a number of defenses in these cases, including false accusations, mistaken identity and insufficient evidence.

This is an area of law that is full of false accusations and wrongful arrests because it usually involves individuals who may be suffering dementia or heightened confusion due to older age. Other times, it involves jealous or angry family members who hurl allegations in order to gain control of family finances. Other times, it may be someone who means well, but may not have a good idea of the full picture of what's going on.

Regardless of the circumstances, these are serious charges and must be handled accordingly.

Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are arrested in Fullerton.