Feb. 25, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
A home health aide worker has been busted for allegedly scamming her 89-year-old client out of $90,000.
Sita Saunders, 61, from Fresh Meadows, allegedly conned the senior–who is blind–into signing checks for more than her agreed upon salary. Additionally, she made more than a dozen unauthorized cash withdrawals from the victim’s bank account and pocketed the funds, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
Saunders was arraigned Wednesday for carrying out the swindle, which took place from March 2019 through December 2020. She has been charged with grand larceny, identity theft and criminal possession of stolen property. Saunders faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
“The worker was supposed to be helping the victim,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “Instead, this defendant allegedly scammed the woman into signing inflated paychecks and ripped her off during regular trips to the bank.”
According to the charges, Saunders looked after the woman at the victim’s Bay Terrace home for around 10 years and assisted her in paying her bills due to her impairment.
Saunders would often write out checks for the woman to sign and transport the elderly woman to the bank when needed.
In March 2019 Saunders began writing out paychecks for herself that exceeded her salary. In total she wrote and cashed nine checks for amounts in excess of her salary through May 9, 2019. The alleged fraud netted her $9,000.
In February 2020, Saunders began making unauthorized cash withdrawals from the victim’s checking account while they were visiting the local Capital One bank.
Saunders would go up to the bank teller and withdraw the cash while the woman would sit in the waiting area.
By December 2020, Saunders had made 17 illegal withdrawals, totalling more than $81,000 from the woman’s bank account. The withdrawals ranged from $2,200 to $12,000, according to the criminal complaint.
Saunders was nabbed after the victim’s son noticed irregularities in his mother’s account and notified the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
Saunders was ordered back to court on April 27.