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WOMAN WANTED FOR EXPLOITATION of a vulnerable adult

A Saucier woman was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of stealing money from an elderly Hancock County man. The woman’s neighbor is also wanted in connection with the crime, Hancock County Investigator A.J. Gambino said.

Gambino said that 39-year-old Shara Leon was booked in the Hancock County jail today just before noon on charges of fraud, identity theft and taking advantage of an elderly person.

Earlier this year in May, Gambino said, a family member filed a report with the Diamondhead Police Department after she discovered several fraudulent transactions in her parent’s checking account. A complaint was also filed with the victim’s bank.

After the complaint was filed, authorities began their investigation, Gambino said.

“Over the course of that investigation,” Gambino said, “we obtained varies documents pertaining to the fraud case from the victim’s bank through subpoenas. We found the transactions began in May of 2016 and were stopped once the police report was filed.”

Authorities said they discovered Leon used the victim’s routing number and checking account number to pay her husband’s personal credit card bill, phone bill and home mortgage. She also paid her own personal credit card bill, health insurance premiums, department store charge card, vehicle insurance premiums and other personal bills.

A neighbor of Leon’s, Lynda Wolfe ,55, of Saucier, contributed to the crime by using the account in March of 2017, Gambino said. She transferred the funds to pay personal credit card bills online.

“The total amount of loss-es to the victim was for $27,424.37,” Gambino said. Since the fraudulent activity, investigators believe Wolfe has moved from the Saucier area. Her whereabouts, at this time, are unknown and officials need help locating her. Wolfe has outstanding warrants for wire transfer fraud, identity theft, exploitation of a vulnerable adult, conspiracy to commit wire transfer fraud and conspiracy to commit identity theft.

Wire transfer fraud is obtaining currency by fraudulent pretenses through wire transfers. It carries a penalty of no more than $100,000 and 5 years of imprisonment. Identity theft is when someone uses another person’s personal information or identification. In this case, Gambino said the two used personal checking account information to commit an illegal act. The penalty for identity theft is no less than 2 years and no more than 15 years and carries a fine of up to $10,000.

Due to both the victim’s age and medical condition Leon and Wolfe are also being charged with the exploitation of a vulnerable adult which by Mississippi law carries a sentence of up to 10 years. Leon is currently in the Hancock County jail being held on a combined bond amount of $75,000.

If you know of Wolfe’s whereabouts, please contact the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department or Central Dispatch at 228-255-9191.

If you or someone you know is believed to have been a victim of any of the related crimes mentioned above, please contact Hancock County Investigator A.J. Gambino at 228-466-6948.


Story by Stacey Cato

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