CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. (WTXL) - A local caretaker is behind bars after investigators say she exploited an elderly woman for nearly half a million dollars, leaving the victim to live off social security and food stamps.
The Wakulla County Sheriff's Office says they have arrested Laurie Faircloth for exploiting a 71-year-old woman she was supposed to be taking care of.
On Jan. 8, someone reported to deputies that Faircloth was financially exploiting the woman. A preliminary investigation revealed that the crimes happened in both Leon and Wakulla counties.
In March, WCSO reached out to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigative squad for assistance in the case.
According to deputies, Faircloth became the victim's caretaker in February 2016. Later on, she convinced the victim to give her power of attorney. She also got the victim to make Faircloth the beneficiary of the victim's will despite Faircloth not being a relative.
The victim told investigators Faircloth had asked for $20,000 in the beginning of 2017 as payment for her 2016 services. The victim said Faircloth never asked for payment before, but she agreed to the terms.
Deputies say the victim had around $354,000 in her bank accounts and over $200,000 in appraised assets, including jewelry, gold coins, platinum, and silver.
However, from February 2016 to January 2018, all of the victim’s accounts were depleted, leaving zero balances. An investigation revealed Faircloth had also sold off more than half off the victim's appraised assets.
Deputies note the victim was later able to identify the valuables and jewelry through photographs.
Because of Faircloth's actions, WCSO says the victim is now living on social security and food stamps.
On May 2, investigators interviewed Faircloth, who said she had been taking care of the victim and was getting paid $15 hour. However, she didn't recall how much she received from the victim each month or year of service.
Detectives say Faircloth acknowledged that she had power of attorney over the victim and stated that everything the victim had, “we spent on dog rescue.” She told them she rescues animals and did "a good deed with it."
Faircloth said that the only jewelry she had that belongs to the victim are her “pearls.”
Based on the evidence, Faircloth was charged with exploitation of an elderly victim $50,000 or more, grand theft, and dealing in stolen property. On Thursday, Faircloth was arrested and booked into the Wakulla County Jail.
She is being held on a $75,000 bond.