HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – Two home health care companions were arrested for stealing from their elderly patients, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office detectives said.
Kathy Elliot, 66, and Anita Puskas, 42, were arrested in Hillsborough last week. Kathy Jean Elliot worked for Hanson Services and was an in-home health care companion for 67-year-old and 98-year-old female victims. Detectives said she took a lot of jewelry from the victims’ homes and pawned it.
Anita Louise Puskas also worked for Hanson Services. According to HCSO, Puskas withdrew large sums of money from her 87-year-old victim’s bank account..
Elliot was charged with two counts of exploitation of an elderly person, two counts of grand heft, two counts of dealing in stolen property, and two counts of false information on a pawnbroker form. Puskas was charged with exploitation of an elderly person, grand theft, and 12 counts of fraudulent use of a credit card.
HCSO detectives think these two women might have more victims. If you or your loved one were victimized by these women, please call HCSO at (813)247-8200.
There are some things you can do to protect your loved ones. Geneieve Fault owner of Aging Care Advocates, said there has to be a system of checks and balances. “Make sure there is an inventory of items, valuables in the house as well as financial assets so that the family can keep a track of those items and make sure that they remain there.”
According to Alzheimer’s Association, older Americans are losing roughly 2.9 billion dollars every year to people who take advantage of them. 55% of all abuse occurs within families. And only 1 in 44 financial abuse cases are ever reported. “They can’t assume that that caregiver is going to do right all the time. They have to be involved. They have to check in. If they don’t live locally or if they’re too busy, they can hire someone to check in,” Faulk said.
If you suspect someone may be the victim of elderly abuse, call Adult Protective Services at 1-800 96-ABUSE, it’s a confidential call.