The Broward Sheriff’s Office has arrested a man accused of exploiting a 90-year-old Tamarac woman.
The accused is facing felony charges of exploitation of the elderly and grand theft after the accused - claiming to be a handyman - knocked on the alleged victim’s door and offered to clean the woman’s air ducts for a nominal fee. When the woman agreed, the man entered the house and claimed that she had mold that needed to be removed. He quoted her a fee of several hundred dollars to remove mold from her air ducts that apparently was not present.
Over the next few weeks, the accused returned to the woman’s home to continue to claim that she was in need of various services. In all, the man is accused of stealing more than $3,000 from the elderly woman.
The man has previous convictions for the exploitation of the elderly. In Broward County, where a large number of elderly residents live, exploitation of the elderly scams are not uncommon. The Broward Sheriff’s Office has detectives specifically assigned to elderly exploitation matters.
While elderly people, like children, are sensitive victims, police officers do have a tendency to be overzealous when it comes to allegations of exploitation. Not all transactions involving elderly people can be classified as exploitation.
The state must prove that the accused knowingly used deception or intimidation in obtaining funds or property from an elderly person. The state will have to prove in this case that there was no mold and that the woman did not need the repairs that she paid for. Otherwise, the case is entirely speculative. If the buyer of the services was not a 90-year-old, you wouldn’t have a case.
It’s one thing to agree to hire a handyman and it’s another to be the victim of a scam. While I understand that elderly people need special care and are especially vulnerable due to the fact that they often have money in savings, they often live alone and may suffer from diminished mental capacity (senility, Alzheimer’s, etc...), the state still must prove that this victim - irrespective of age - was the victim of a deceptive scheme by a person who intended to steal her money.