Man Uses 90-year-old Mother's $174,000 Nursing Home Funds to Go on Cruise, Buy Cars Until Account Was Empty: Police

An Alabama man has been accused of plowing through nearly $200,000 reserved for his 90-year-old disabled mother's assisted-living accomodation, splashing the cash on clothes, hotel stays, vehicles and even a cruise trip.

A financial crimes detective told a Columbus, Georgia, city court that Vincent Wiggins, 51, of Phenix City. had blown a $174,000 insurance check on the items, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported.

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Wiggins pled not guilty to a count of felony exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults or elder persons Friday morning. His charge has been bound over to Muscogee Superior Court.

Adult Protective Services told police November 9 that an elderly woman living at Columbus' Orchard View nursing home might be facing exploitation. Per The Ledger-Enquirer, police detective Crystal Hatcher said the insurance check should have paid for living expenses of between $6,035 to $6,917 per month.

Although payment records showed some fees were paid to Wiggins' mother's nursing home account, it was empty from May 2017 to August 2018, the publication reported.

“She is very upset,” Hatcher—who had interviewed the victim—told the court during Friday's hearing.

As of November 2018, Wiggins' mothers expenses have risen to $30,000 per month, the publication reported. Officials are hoping to arrange an agreement with the facility.

The Department of Justice announced the results in February 2018 of a major crackdown on elder fraud schemes. Telemarketing scams, investment fraud, identity theft and theft by guardians had cost victims some half a billion dollars during the year-long sweep, the DOJ said.

Then-acting FBI deputy director David Bowdich called elder fraud “a serious and growing threat,” at a press conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. in February, the FBI reported. The sweep saw charges brought against some 250 individuals that officials claimed had targeted more than one million mostly senior Americans.

“While criminals see the elderly as trusting people with money,” Bowdich said at the time, “we see them as national treasures. The elderly are the cornerstone of this country. Many of them sacrificed for their families … for their nation.” He added, “We understand how devastating a fraudulent scheme against elderly victims can be, not just financially, but emotionally, mentally, and even physically.”

“The FBI reminds seniors and their caregivers to be vigilant. If any person believes they are the victim of, or have knowledge of fraud involving an elderly person, regardless of the loss amount, they should report it to the FBI,” he said in a Department of Justice statement.

Elder Fraud, Theft, Alabama, Georgia, Nursing Home
File Photo: Retirees are pictured at a home. GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images