A 94-year-old Toronto woman has lost her life savings, allegedly to a couple who took over her house while she was still living in it.
Norma Marshall hired a housekeeper in 2010, and as time went by she became more and more trusting of her employee.
“The housekeeper became quickly involved in the woman’s daily activities, as well as gained access to her banking and finances,” Det. Const. Valerie Dahan of 53 Division’s fraud unit said at a news conference on Wednesday morning.
Sometime in 2014, police said the housekeeper told Marshall her family was moving back to Portugal and wanted the elderly lady to join them.
However, early in March — on the day Marshall thought she was moving — the housekeeper, her husband and their children, with all of their possessions, showed up at the door and moved into Marshall’s house.
Police got involved when they got a call from a pharmacy delivery person, Firoz Jogiat, who became suspicious when someone other than Marshall had answered the door and claimed to be her family.
Jogiat insisted on seeing the elderly woman and found her confined to one room.
“They took me to this small room, where Norma was confined to the bed. And I asked a few questions to Norma why she was not taking her medication regularly, but she didn’t look at me,” he said.
Marshall was also bilked of her life savings and other possessions.
“The women’s possessions, including furniture, valuables and jewelry were sold without her knowledge,” Dahan said.
“It is further alleged that the woman was defrauded of a majority of her life savings, which at this time is believed to be approximately $25,000, and the housekeeper had no intention of emigrating with the woman,” she said.
Marshall said she is grateful the delivery man, the pharmacist and her doctor’s office noticed something was wrong.
She said that if “hadn’t been for them,” no one would have known of her situation.
“The life savings is one thing, but what it does to you emotionally is worse. You don’t need a lot of money when you get old, you just need your rent, food, but you do need people around you.”
Vera Nunes, 32, and Luis Serpa Da Conceicao Santos, 38, both of Toronto, have been charged with two counts of mischief under $5,000, and mischief – interfering with property.
Police believe there are other victims and are urging anyone with information to come forward.
Patricia Fleischmann, vulnerable persons coordinator at Toronto police, said “seniors are particularly susceptible to elder abuse and frauds, and regrettably, there is a great reluctance to disclose these types of incidents.”
She said that since this type of crime is under-reported, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact number.
Fleischmann said generally two to 10 per cent of seniors are being abused, and police believe the numbers are much higher.