Woman preyed on 84-year-old widow to steal his home, prosecutors say

A 56-year-old woman is facing criminal charges after detectives found she took advantage of an 84-year-old widow she met while working at Maspons Funeral Home in Miami-Dade County, authorities announced on Wednesday.

Detectives accused Maribel Torres of preying on her victim while making funeral arrangements after his wife died in 2019. Torres pretended she and her son were her relatives from Cuba to gain the victim’s trust, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

“Our community will not stand for crimes in which our elderly are exploited,” MDPD Interim Director George A. Perez said in a statement.

Detectives and prosecutors reported finding Torres took advantage of the widow’s Alzheimer’s disease and advanced dementia to get access to his legal and financial matters. Torres manipulated his victim into signing off his mortgage-free home of 40 years, police said.

“Utilizing a wife’s death and an obvious impairment as tools to steal an elderly man’s home would seem to be a new low in alleged criminal conduct,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement on Wednesday.

Torres and her son were living in the victim’s home when a nephew who lived in Palm Beach County showed up to visit and became suspicious enough to report them to authorities, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department. There were suspicious transactions in 2020 and 2021 before officers arrested Torres.

State and county records show Torres registered 5811 SW 25 St LLC as a Florida corporation on Nov. 3, 2020, and transferred the ownership of the home in Coral Way Heights on Nov. 10, 2020.

There was a balloon mortgage on the victim’s property for $100,000 and a business loan for $360,000 utilizing the home as collateral, according to prosecutors with the State Attorney’s Office elderly exploitation task force.

The investigation included a bank account with Torres and her son as the only authorized signers. In 2021, from March 23 to April 8, there were $118,000 in cash withdrawals and $104,627 in deposits.

“Situations like this expose the ugly face of elderly exploitation which targets the frailest members of our community,” Fernandez Rundle said in a statement.

Torres is facing charges of first-degree felony exploitation of the elderly or disabled over $100,000, first-degree felony grand theft over $100,000, and third-degree felony organized scheme to defraud.

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