Crime

Two women arrested for allegedly committing insurance fraud on elderly Santa Barbara woman

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Two women have been arrested on accusations they targeted an elderly Santa Barbara resident with insurance fraud for over 10 years. 

According to the California Department of Insurance officials, Erica Salda, 57, of Santa Barbara and Wendy Foster, 59, of Oxnard allegedly targeted a long-time resident of Santa Barbara since 2005.

The then 89-year-old woman had a multi-million-dollar investment portfolio that Foster and Salda convinced her to liquidate after convincing her to abandon the licensed professionals who had been managing her estate for years and replace them with Foster.

Foster had no previous experience as a professional attorney or a beneficiary of a trust, said officials. 

Between the years of 2005 and 2015, Foster and Salda are accused of convincing the victim to invest $3 million dollars into two annuity policies as well as conspiring to unnecessarily selling an additional 23 annuities to the victim, with a large number of them being purchased without the victim's knowledge.  

The sales of the annuities gave Foster and Salda over $1 million in insurance commissions.

Foster also collected $400,000 worth of fees for acting as the victim's trustee during the 10-year span.

Salda and Foster also allegedly isolated the victim from her family while accepting tens of thousands of dollars in cash gifts from the victim.

Authorities say the victim was also persuaded to spend $20,000 for one of Foster's daughters to spend a year studying abroad in China. 

Foster and Salda failed to disclose to the victim that they were engaged to each other as well as Foster had declared personal bankruptcy and had been sued for fraud by the Federal Trade Commission in the past. 

Salda's E-Pro Insurance Agency business is operated out of her home in Santa Barbara.

The Department of Insurances Investigation Division in Valencia conducted the investigation after learning about the fraud in 2015 when the victim's family members became suspicious and contacted Adult Protective Services for help.

Salda was arrested at her home in Santa Barbara and was booked into custody in Santa Barbara County.

Foster was arrested at her home in Oxnard and was booked into custody at the Ventura County Sheriff's facility.

Bail for both Foster and Salda is set at $500,000. 


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