An alert delivery man and a pharmacist are responsible for the arrest of two people accused of moving into a 94-year-old woman’s home and defrauding her of thousands of dollars.
Firoz Jogial sensed something was wrong when he showed up at Norma Marshall’s residence three weeks ago to deliver her medication.
“Every Wednesday, Norma would answer the door,” said Jogial, at a press conference at police headquarters on April 2. “When I went there, three Wednesdays ago, someone else answered the door and that was uncommon. When I asked the gentleman who he was, he said he was a family member. In the last 10 years since I have been making deliveries to Norma, I have never seen any family.”
Jogial insisted on seeing Marshall when he returned to her home two weeks ago.
He said he was taken to a small room where he found the nonagenarian in bed.
“I asked Norma a few questions, like why she was not taking her medication regularly,” Jogial added. “She didn’t look at me. She was just scared and I knew that something was wrong… Whenever she answered the door, she would talk to me and ask me a few questions... I went back to the pharmacy and told my pharmacist that all was not right.”
Pharmacist Selina Chan-Ying called police.
“There was something very abnormal,” she said. “Firoz felt she was scared and I thought it was time to do something.”
Marshall thanked Chan-Ying and Jogial and said the accused did more than steal her life savings.
“That is one thing,” she said. “What it does to you is emotionally worse. You don’t need a lot of money when you get old.”
Marshall said she met the housekeeper about four years ago, after her former cleaner developed knee problems and could no longer do the job.
“She started out cleaning for me, which was fine, and then she started coming more often,” said Marshall, whose only living relative – a nephew -- lives in Montreal. “One day, I went to the laundry room and, when I came up, she said she would cook for me. I thought that would be nice... I was quite pleased with that and didn’t have any problem.”
Earlier this year, the housekeeper advised Marshall that she and her family would be returning to their native Portugal. They asked the elderly woman to join them there, where she would be given a room in the family home.
“I didn’t feel too comfortable with that idea, but I knew my doctor would not allow me to go with them,” she said.
In early March, the housekeeper, along with her husband and their two children, moved into Marshall’s home.
“At that time, she was placed into a smaller bedroom and confined to that space,” said Detective Constable Valerie Dahan, a 53 Division Fraud investigator. “Her possessions, including furniture, jewelry and other valuables were allegedly sold without her knowledge. It’s further alleged that the accused was defrauded of the majority of her life savings believed to be approximately $25,000.”
Vera Nunes and Luis Serpa Da Conceicao Santos, both of Toronto, were arrested by police last week.
The accused are facing several charges, including theft, fraud, mischief to interfere and being unlawfully in a dwelling place.
Investigators believe there may be more victims and want to hear from anyone with any information.
Constable Patricia Fleischmann, the Toronto Police Service’s Vulnerable Persons Coordinator, said seniors are susceptible to elder abuse and fraud.
She said Marshall’s case is a classic example of a vulnerable person who became a victim of elder abuse through no fault of her own.
“This particular offence demonstrates some of the many facets of this crime, specifically that of financial and psychological abuse,” said Fleischmann. “Financial abuse also includes the mishandling of an older person's money or property and it also includes fraud.”
She said everyone should be mindful of seniors being taken advantage of. Fleischmann said signs of financial abuse include: Power of Attorney has been changed; Lost jewellery or other valuables; Change in level of care; Not having money for the necessaries of life, for example, hearing aids or glasses and/or Seniors signing legal documents they do not understand.
Anyone with information can contact Dahan at 416-808-5307, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook. Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.