ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A grand jury indicts a Rockford pair accused of stealing money from a couple of senior citizens.

Angel Laster and Eugene Woods face a long list of charges, including forgery and financial exploitation of an elderly person.

This type of crime has become an epidemic throughout Illinois.

“A lot of people who are asked to help, are not worthy of that trust,” said Adult Protective Services Supervisor of Lee, Carroll, Ogle and Whiteside Counties, David Dorsey.

Police say Laster, an in-home caregiver, stole multiple checks from the victim’s checkbook. Over $4,000 was taken from the account.

Incidents like this plague the surrounding areas.

“It’s far more than common, it’s an avalanche. It’s escalating to numbers we’ve never seen before,” Dorsey explained. “It’s actually an epidemic everywhere in our state.”

The unfortunate events lead to the money sometimes not being traceable.

“Rarely is the money recoverable, cause it’s gone,” Dorsey said. “People don’t steal elder’s money to save it. They steal it, and they spend it.”

Local counties have seen the abuse happen hundreds of times.

“In the last calendar year for Lee, Carroll, Ogle and Whiteside we opened 409 abuse cases. That’s four rural communities, the number of intakes are much higher in metropolitan areas, specifically our nearest large metropolitan area is Rockford,” he mentioned.

Dorsey says banks are trained to try and prevent the fraud from happening.

“The laws have changed and now require banks to train on financial exploitation issues,” he added.

Another way to prevent the crimes is with help of loved ones.

“The most effective, absolutely the most effective solution for financial exploitation is to have involved family members,” Dorsey said. “Family members can prevent financial abuse.”

The following statement was sent to Eyewitness News by Home Instead Senior Care, where Laster worked.

“This individual is no longer employed with our company. Upon learning of these reports, we took immediate steps to suspend, and then terminate this individual. We have cooperated fully with the authorities and will to continue to do so to ensure that this individual is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We take very seriously the responsibility we have to our clients. Before placing a CAREGiver in a client’s home, we conduct rigorous third-party criminal background checks, drug tests as well as personal and professional reference checks. These were all completed in this instance and we did not find any history of inappropriate behavior.” Dan Woodka, Owner

For more ways to help stop elderly financial exploitation follow this link.


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