The police arrested two women accused of defrauding an 83-year-old man of nearly $50,000. Daria Martinez, who was arrested on federal drug charges on Dec. 4, was served with the additional warrant at Chaves County Detention Center on Dec. 22. Gracie Carabajal was arrested on Dec. 28.
Investigating officer Detective Neil Binderman said this case should act as a warning. “This man lost his wife in April. Martinez portrayed herself as a licensed home health caregiver and moved in. Somehow she got a hold of his ATM and his PIN. She made purchases and withdrawals on a daily basis for five months and managed [auth] to get $48,000.”
According to Binderman, the 83-year-old victim was hospitalized in September and the purchases continued. The victim only discovered the theft when he was able to get a hold of his bank record.
“Martinez had a warrant issued during the combined law enforcement agency sting in November. She used the victim’s residence as a place to hide from the government,” he said.
“After Martinez was arrested on the trafficking charge, she was immediately replaced by Gracie. … She has a number of different aliases. Carabajal was the one she used the most, but as far as I know her last name is Lucero,” Binderman said.
He said that Carabajal stole six checks and cashed some in an agregate amount of $3,500. Most were made out to her.
Officer Miguel Lopez took the initial report. “He was reluctant to file a complaint against her. Gracie has several children and had established residency. She refused to move when the fraud came to light,” he said. “I put him in contact with legal aid so he could start eviction proceedings. I don’t know if it was because he started getting all this information in the mail from legal aid, but she eventually moved out.”
Lopez did what he could to help the victim who had only recently been released from the hospital. “He was in bad shape. I called his son and asked him come from out-of-state to help his father.”
The victim said that he finally decided to file charges because he wanted to make sure this didn’t happen to anyone else.
During the investigation, Binderman said the names of the potential suspects were obvious since the victim knew them; however, he still had to trace the transactions and the investigation is ongoing.
“She gave him some kind of hard luck story, and these women preyed on the frailty and the loneliness of a man who had just lost his wife,” Binderman said.
Chief Alfonso Solis said, “When we are made aware of these cases where people are preying on the elderly, we will follow through with all our resources.”
Binderman concurred, “We pursue every criminal case with all our resources, but I take a particularly dim view of anyone who would prey on the elderly.”
Martinez is charged with fraud. She was released from Chaves County Detention Center on Tuesday on an unsecured bond. Carabajal is charged with larceny and remains in custody at the CCDC on $25,000 surety bond.