Investigators in Florida believe they unearthed a major fraud operation thanks to a tip from a 99-year-old victim’s brother.
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Sheena Russell, 45, on accusations of grand theft, fraud, and exploitation on Wednesday. Russell is accused of stealing about $600,000 from a woman’s bank account and spending it on lavish vacations and bills.
The Destin elderly woman’s brother tipped up detectives when she relocated into a senior care facility. Her financial accounts were taken over by her brother, who resides out of state. He informed deputies from the sheriff’s office that he had seen substantial money transfers to Russell in recent years.
The victim stated to the authorities that she never permitted Russell to remove money from the accounts.
Russell is acknowledged by the family for assisting the 99-year-old widow with errands after her husband passed away. Officials say Russell met the woman and her late husband while working as a waiter at Fort Walton Beach. Russell is currently a waiter in Destin.
Bank records obtained by the sheriff’s office indicate more than $582,647 in wire transactions to Russell’s account between March 30, 2020, and September 22, 2021.
Investigators met with Russell’s attorney, who claimed the victim and Russell were partners in a business. According to the sheriff, the attorney’s office was unable to present paperwork proving a business connection for the money transactions.
Russell allegedly used the money to pay off her home, buy a vehicle, and finance trips to Walt Disney World, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, Washington, D.C., and Utah skiing.
According to the victim’s brother, Russell attempted to keep the woman away from relatives members in order to conceal the scam.
Russell was released from the Okaloosa County Jail after posting a $60,000 bail. Russell, according to the sheriff’s department, refused to submit a formal statement to authorities and has since terminated her attorney.