Crime

San Luis Obispo woman arrested, charged with elder abuse fraud

Police believe there could be more victims

San Luis Obispo woman arrested...

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - [UPDATE]

61-year-old Candice Kato is now sitting in the San Luis Obispo County Jail but victims of her alleged scams could still be feeling the pain in their pocketbooks. 

Investigators say one family is going through that right now.

"They had noticed some suspicious activity related to his bank accounts, which drew their attention to various checks that they believe to be forged and that's when our investigation began," explains Detective Michael L'heureux from the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

The elderly victim in this case has Alzheimers and was using Kato in part for help with his finances.

"She has represented herself as a financial manager of the victim which gave her access to various financial document," L'heureux said.

Detectives believe the victim had no idea that she was taking his money and also pretending to be someone else. 

SLO PD said she has been going by the name Sapphire Grace for more than a decade.

It wasn't until a family member checked the elderly man's account that they noticed something was wrong. 

Geneva Gray is the director of Visiting Angels in San Luis Obispo, a service that provides in-home caregivers. 

She says it's important for families to stay involved in their loved one's finances, especially if they suffer from a memory disorder.

"Seniors are so trusting because they come from a time where you could trust people and especially if they've developed some kind of memory issue, you always want to involve somebody else in any financial decision," Gray tells us.

She says her staff members always have a third party present when helping their patients write checks and recommends signing up to get alerts from the bank if large withdrawals are taken

"There are safeguards that the banks have like adding notifications when there's a large withdrawal so that family members can be notified if there's something suspicious happening," Gray explains. 

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[ORIGINAL POST]

A San Luis Obispo woman is facing several criminal charges related to elder abuse fraud and police believe this is not her first rodeo committing these crimes.

Candice Kato, 61, who has been going by the alias Sapphire Grace for over a decade, was arrested in May as she was attempting to cash a forged check belonging to the elderly victim who had recently moved out of state to be closer to family after an Alzheimer diagnosis and deteriorating health, according to investigators.

The San Luis Obispo Police Department said the victim's family contacted them after they saw amounts of money being withdrawn from the victim's accounts which were not authorized. The family also told police that the victim's car had been taken and they did not know where it was.

During the investigation, police discovered that approximately $100,000 had been fraudulently obtained from the victim's accounts.

During Kato's arrest, police also recovered the victim's stolen car, which police confirmed was being driven by Kato.

Kato was arrested for being in possession of a stolen car, trying to pass forged checks, burglary, and being in possession of a fraudulent California driver's license in the name of Sapphire Grace. Additional counts of elder abuse and identity theft are being sought against Kato, according to SLO police.

Investigators continue searching for other potential victims in this case. Police say they believe Kato's victims may not be aware they have been victimized.

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is asked to call Detective L'Heureux with the San Luis Obispo Police Department at 805-594-8038.


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