Two women are facing charges for allegedly conspiring to commit financial abuse against an 89-year-old Santa Barbara resident.
The California Department of Insurance says detectives arrested 57-year-old Erica Salda, an insurance agent, at her home in Santa Barbara on Thursday.
They also reportedly arrested her financial advisor, Wendy Foster, 59, from Oxnard.
The charges they face include conspiracy, theft from an elder adult and multiple counts of insurance fraud.
Over a span of 10 years, the two women allegedly targeted a Santa Barbara resident, who had a multi-million dollar investment portfolio.
The Department of Insurance says, in 2005, the two women persuaded the alleged victim to leave her trusted advisors for Foster, who had no prior experience as a professional fiduciary.
The California Department of Insurance says Salda and Foster convinced the alleged victim to liquidate her entire investment portfolio of $3 million.
Over the 10 years, official say the two women generated insurance commission by selling 23 annuities to the woman, many she reportedly didn’t know about.
Salda collected more than $1 million and Foster received more than $4 million for acting as the woman’s trustee, officials say.
According to the California Department of Insurance, Salda and Foster tried to gain control over the victim by isolating the 89-year-old woman from her family and friends.
Their influence over the woman grew stronger, and the alleged victim became more dependent on Salda and Foster for help with financial and daily needs, officials report.
The Department of Insurance says the woman gave Salda and Foster lavish gifts and money, as well as education money for Foster’s children.
Over the 10-year relationship, officials say the two women failed to disclose that Foster had been sued for fraud by the Federal Trade Commission and declared personal bankruptcy in the past.
They also didn’t tell the victim they were engaged in a romantic relationship with each other, officials said.
The Department of Insurance’s Investigation Division in Valencia conducted the investigation.
They reportedly discovered the fraud after the victim’s family members expressed suspicion.
Salda was booked into custody in Santa Barbara County and Foster was booked into custody at the Ventura County Sheriff’s facility.
Bail for each has been set at $500,000.