A 21-year-old self-employed caregiver was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing more than $50,000 from her elderly client over a period of one year and four months. Sarah Benson, a UCSB graduate and the owner of Sarah Benson In-Home Care, is booked in County Jail with bail set at $50,000. She’s charged with felony embezzlement, forgery, and financial elder abuse by a caregiver.
According to police, detectives received a call from a Montecito Bank and Trust employee on February 3. The employee relayed that an elderly customer — the victim — accompanied by a caregiver came to the bank complaining that a different caregiver — Benson — was stealing from him. (The caregiver with the customer was one of Benson’s employees.) The incident was also reported to Santa Barbara County Adult Protective Services.
The 71-year-old victim stated that Benson had recently made six unauthorized ATM transactions and written four forged checks to herself, amounting to a loss of $7,971.63. Upon further investigation, detectives determined that the victim suffered a total loss of $53,121.63 taken by Benson between October 2010 through January 2012.
The victim, said police, is a Mesa resident who suffers from ataxia, which severely limits his ability to coordinate muscle movements. He told authorities that Benson had worked for him as a caregiver for a few years and had earned his trust. Benson initially worked for a caregiver agency, but started her own business in 2011.