SAN ANTONIO – Authorities arrested a man who they said befriended a 66-year-old woman, isolated her and used her confidential information for financial gain as her health declined.
Patrick Farmer, 36, has been charged with multiple offenses relating to elder fraud in Guadalupe County, according to Selma police.
Selma Police Department Detective Robert Wagner said a months-long investigation with the Tri-County Fraud Task Force led to his arrest.
Wagner said Farmer befriended the Selma woman after her husband died. Farmer was hired in April-May 2019 to do odd jobs for the woman, and he eventually moved in with her and “just made himself a home," according to the detective.
The woman was not close with her family, was ill and was allegedly prevented from accessing her family at times.
“Problem was, is that as her health deteriorated, he was unable to take care of her, and really the only primary thing that he was doing was just taking her money,” Wagner told KSAT 12 News.
Farmer accessed the woman’s confidential information, identification and finances like annuities and retirement records, police said. He opened lines of credit, bought items like gold bars and tried to cash out her investments, according to authorities.
“(He) basically kind of took over the, I guess you could call, the fiduciary of her estate and her accounts and just started living on her funds and did it all under the ruse of being a friend,” Wagner.
Farmer took the woman to the hospital when he was unable to take care of her medically. That’s when a hospital caseworker noticed “something was off” and could not find a next-of-kin, Wagner said.
The caseworker contacted Farmer, who did not give the hospital the information they needed. A guardian was placed for the woman when the hospital could not find a relative to care for her.
The guardian contacted Selma police “once they took over the finances and realized that he had ravaged her finances throughout the last year or so,” Wagner said.
The financial loss totaled to at least $40,000 as the woman’s health continued to decline. Police said the amount could be more as they’re still collecting losses.
Wagner reminded relatives and friends to keep track of vulnerable populations who may be targets for financial exploitation.
“If we’re not taking care of our elderly, we’re gonna have individuals like this that basically infiltrate their lives and start ostracizing the family from and they become a perfect target for victims,” Wagner said.
The Guadalupe County Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case.