Disabled woman's aide is accused
of identity theft
St. Petersburg Detective Nancy Pillucere recently investigated a home health care specialist, charging the 36-year-old woman with three counts of stealing the identity of a disabled person and one count of exploitation of such a person.
The victim in this case is a 39-year-old woman with cerebral palsy, who requires 24-hour care.
Identity theft is the fastest growing economic crime trend in America. Florida ranked fifth among states with the highest number of identity theft complaints in 2007.
Pillucere learned that the victim's mother, who recently died, had arranged for her daughter to have a supportive-living coach to oversee her care. The coach contracted with a local home care service to provide the woman with a companion, who would clean the house and help her eat, bathe and dress.
The service hired a local woman. She told investigators that she is taking classes online to become a lawyer.
The home care service was aware of, but overlooked, the woman's extensive criminal history when hiring her.
In less than two months, the suspect used her personal computer to apply for student loans and open three credit cards in the victim's name. The loss suffered by the victim is $28,000.
This tragic case reinforces the message that we all need to be on guard. I recently found a helpful Web site — idsafety.org — where you can find articles about this, learn how to protect yourself, download a prevention toolkit and find out what to do if you become a victim.
William Proffitt, St. Petersburg police spokesman