Warrant: Home health aide, boyfriend stole $129K from 92-year-old Westport client
A home health aide hired to care for a 92-year-old Westport woman is accused of taking advantage of her. Lisbeth Aldiva and her boyfriend Hiram Mojica, both of Hartford, face a long list of charges in connection to the theft of $129,180.75 from the elderly victim's brokerage accounts.
Aldiva began working for the victim in April as one of two home health care aides from First Place Home Care LLC, according to her arrest warrant. Two months in, Aldiva was replaced, and police were involved. They said in June, the victim's daughter reported $200 cash gone from her mother's purse and another $50 taken from a birthday card her mother gave the other aide. The daughter also reported strange charges on her mother's Costco Visa Card and Jet Blue Mastercard that totaled nearly $800. Then in September, the investigation took a turn.
"At this point, we were notified by the family that the scheme and larceny had become much more than what we initially had been told, and it was in the neighborhood of over $100,000," Lt. Eric Woods told News 12.
Woods said the suspects somehow got the passwords and information needed to access the victims' three Wells Fargo brokerage accounts, then made tele-transfers from them into the victim's Wells Fargo checking account, for which they'd stolen the ATM card. According to their arrest warrants, there were 50 tele-transfers and 91 ATM withdrawals from June 1-Sept. 9 when the victim's daughter discovered her mother's ATM card gone. Wood said police received security footage for the withdrawals and the lead detective immediately recognized Aldiva.
Aldiva was observed executing 72 transactions while Mojica 14 was seen doing 14 transactions, according to their warrants. Five transactions didn't have screenshots.
A search of court records shows Aldiva has several misdemeanor convictions from 2013-2022, including for third-degree assault, second-degree threatening, second-degree breach of peace, third-degree criminal mischief and violations of probation.
News 12 called First Place Home Care LLC and asked to speak to the director. The woman who came to the phone said she knew Aldiva was under investigation but didn't know she'd been arrested. When asked if she was aware of Aldiva's criminal history, she said no but maintained the business did do a background check.
Aldiva and Mojica are charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny, first-degree forgery and conspiracy to commit first-degree forgery, telephone fraud and conspiracy to commit telephone fraud, illegal use of a credit card and conspiracy to illegally use a credit card, criminal impersonation and conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation, fraudulent use of an automated teller machine and conspiracy to commit fraudulent use of an automated teller machine and first-degree identity theft and conspiracy to commit first-degree identity theft.
Mojica faces additional drug charges after police said that as he was being booked, they discovered he was in possession of suspected heroin/fentanyl and a pipe commonly used to smoke crack cocaine.
Both suspects were arraigned at Stamford Superior Court where Aldiva's bond was set at $200,000 and Mohica's at $210,000. Both have an additional pending case out of Waterbury Superior Court.
Anna Doroghazi, associate state director for advocacy and outreach at AARP Connecticut, said it's important for people to do their due diligence with home care providers. She recommended reaching out to friends or family who've been in the situation for recommendations.
"It's important for people to understand the type of worker you're hiring to come into your home. In Connecticut, we have a pretty broad range of job titles for home care workers. We have homemaker companions, home health aides, we have personal care attendants. All of these job titles have slightly different job functions and are regulated by different state agencies," Doroghazi told News 12. "It's important for folks to understand how a worker was vetted or screened beforehand. Different job titles go through different background check processes."
Doroghazi also said lawmakers have an important role to play in keeping the older adults safe at home.
"They need to adequately regulate all the different home care provider types, and they need to provide state agencies with adequate resources to provide oversight to workers and to the agencies that provide these health care workers," she explained. "We're serving more people in community-based settings than ever before, and we don't have the same level of advocacy and protection and oversight folks who are receiving care in home communtiies settings that we do for folks who are receiving care in nursing homes."
Doroghazi said one in 10 older adults experience some kind of elder abuse. "We know this is incredibly underreported and something that's important for older adults to know is they shouldn't be embarrassed."
There is a state hotline to report cases of suspected elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation: 1-888-385-4225.