ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - A St. Johns County couple is being sought on charges of exploitation of the elderly or disabled and organized scheming to defraud.
Teresa and Robert Oakes, 54 and 55 respectively, haven't been seen since their vacation ended last week.
The suspects are accused of depriving a Teresa Oakes' 87-year old mother and her late husband of their life savings over the last six years.
The investigation began on Jan. 28 when Teresa Oakes' mother discovered she was defrauded of her funds by her daughter and son-in-law whom she had trusted and called the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, deputies said.
Financial Crimes Detective Henry Miller was assigned the case a few days later, and his lengthy investigation revealed that the suspects' had stolen all of the victims' assets and continued to exploit them once they had secured Power of Attorney, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The funds the couple is accused of stealing are over $282,000, along with another $150,000 of property value since July 2008.
Deputies said the suspects convinced the victims to jointly purchase a home with a guest house in Florida and move from New Jersey in 2008. The victims paid cash for their half while the suspects mortgaged the rest, deputies said.
They said the suspects also convinced the victims to withhold their name from the deed to avoid probate upon their death, and promised they could live at the home for the rest of their lives.
The suspects also convinced the victims to cash out all of their investments between 2009 and 2013 and entrust the funds with them to allegedly invest in a higher rate of return, deputies said.
At the time, the victims were unaware that the suspects were depositing the funds in their personal bank accounts and using those funds for their personal gain, deputies said. They said the suspects also convinced the victims to open a joint bank account with them and name them (the suspects) as Power of Attorney.
When the victim's husband died last year, deputies said, the suspects took the life insurance funds ($40,000) from the victim. Following her husband's death, the victim told the suspects she wanted to do her own banking, deputies said. They said the suspects refused and even served the victim with an eviction notice from the property.
The victim then learned that she was left with no savings and only $115 in her checking account, deputies said.
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