Two Florida nursing assistants scammed patients for more than $500,000 and used it to take cruises, get plastic surgery, and even rent a Rolls Royce.
Twenty-nine-year-old Chiquita McGee and 30-year-old Sophia Shephard also managed to convince patients to open credit cards in the names of the nurses, but linked to the patients’ accounts, and let the nurses access an unlimited line of credit, USA Today and TC Palm reported.
The two nurses charged over $400,000 in dental work, plastic surgery, cruises, jewelry, clothing, and a car engine, according to detectives. The patients’ families alerted the Florida Department of Health of the fraud, who then called the police. Authorities went to the homes of McGee and Shephard with search warrants after a four-month investigation, according to USA Today.
“I’ve seen fraud cases like this before, but not for $500,000,” said Indian River Shores Public Safety Chief Rich Rosell, via USA Today. “For a little town like Indian River Shores, something like this is unheard of.”
The fraudulent charges first showed up on the patients’ credit card statements in February 2017, according to TC Palm. Police seized merchandise from McGee and Shephard’s homes on March 13 and the items are still being inventoried by police, but police are having trouble finding a place to store it all because of the amount. Police are also analyzing a laptop they seized.
“It is a plausible concern of law enforcement that there could be other victims,” Rosell said, via TC Palm. “We’re hoping once the forensics is completed, we’ll find out more information.”
Indian River Home Care Plus, the agency that contracted the women, fired them in November, but that was before they knew about the fraud. They were fired for reasons including using abusive language toward staff members and forging hours, TC Palm reported.
“We learned of the fraudulent actions from the family at the end of November, and immediately reported the illegal activity to the authorities,” said Margot Kornicks, owner of Indian River Home Care Plus, via TC Palm. “We have been working with the Indian River Shores Public [Safety] Department ever since.”
The women were charged with scheme to defraud, organized fraud, and exploitation of the elderly, three felonies. They are being held in Indian River County Jail without bail. If convicted, they could face up to 60 years in prison, according to USA Today.