A taxi driver was charged with theft over $5,000 in connection with an elder abuse investigation by the Edmonton Police Service.
Antoine Chebli, 59, allegedly stole more than $10,000 from a 79-year-old Edmonton woman between December 2014 and September 2015 by making unauthorized withdrawals from her bank account.
Lois Holland had appointed Chebli as her Power of Attorney and granted him joint access to her bank account.
She initially hired him to be her driver, to take her to medical appointments, pick up groceries and to various other appointments, police said.
“Your first feeling is shock – that somebody has let you down and then you feel embarrassed,” Holland said. “You don’t want to tell anybody because they’re going to think you’re an idiot and you just sit there and it preys on your mind. You don’t want to go out. You just want to sit there.
“I finally talked to the manager at the bank,” she said.
“Similar to domestic violence, elder abuse is a crime that often goes undetected and is under-reported to police,” Det. Alf Ma, with the EPS Senior Protection Unit, said. Ma worked on the case and charged Chebli with theft in connection with alleged abuse of Power of Attorney responsibilities.
“Often, these crimes are perpetrated by family members or close friends, by people elderly victims trust and consider as loved ones. There are so many vulnerabilities that seniors often face, as they age,” Ma said.
“Trusting a loved one or friend to take care of their needs shouldn’t be one of them.”
Last month, the EPS Elder Abuse Unit charged a 53-year-old Edmonton man with allegedly stealing $265,000 from his 94-year-old grandmother, who had also given him Power of Attorney responsibilities.
Edmonton police launched an elder abuse public awareness campaign Wednesday that will run through June and half of July, including a TV commercial and social media messaging.
June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
The United Nations estimates between four to six per cent of elderly people have experienced some form of maltreatment at home.
On Wednesday, the government of Alberta announced $1.2 million in grants to help address and prevent elder abuse.
The grants will go to 25 seniors groups, community organizations and municipalities across the province. They’ll be allocated for Year 2 of the three-year $3-million Taking Action Against Elder Abuse Coordinated Community Response program.