A lot of people come to Florida to retire, so it’s not surprising that the Florida legislature enacted a law to protect elderly citizens from scam artists. The law makes it a felony to exploit an elderly person by, obtaining funds from the elderly person by deception, or when the defendant knows or should know that the elderly person does not have the ability to consent.
Recently a 46-year-old woman was arrested and charged under the statute. According to authorities, the woman befriended an 82-year-old man and went with him on a trip to the Florida Keys. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office says the man is prone to confusion.
Authorities allege that during the trip, the man bought expensive gifts for the woman, including a Rolex watch worth $13,000. After they got back from the Keys, the man bought the woman a 2006 Lexus for over $25,000. The woman was arrested after she allegedly attempted to open a credit line under the man’s name, with herself named as an additional cardholder. She has been charged with exploiting an elderly person and grand theft.
Theft charges can carry serious consequences in Florida, especially if the amount is large enough to make it a felony. But the prosecution has the burden of proving every element of the alleged crime, including intent on the part of the defendant. They will also have to prove the accused’s alleged conduct met at least one of the statutory definitions of exploiting the elderly. In a case like this, a lot may turn on the alleged victim’s mental capacity and the ability of the accused to persuade a jury her intentions were honest.
Source: New York Daily News, “Florida woman dubbed ‘Sweetheart Scammer’ allegedly cons man out of small fortune,” Joe Kemp, April 18, 2014