A 94-year-old Thorncliffe Park woman is starting to feel at home again, after a husband and wife team who allegedly took over her residence and defrauded her out of her life savings have been arrested and most of her belongings returned.
Police say a moving company hired in March by the co-accused to remove Norma Marshall’s furniture from her apartment returned the furniture on April 10.
“All of her furniture was returned — she’s got all of her stuff back,” said Det. Const. Valerie Dahan, rhyming off the returned pieces as a dining table, chairs, two loveseats, a desk, a washer and dryer, and a stereo system.
The accused couple, who are Marshall’s former housekeeper and the housekeeper’s husband, moved into Marshall’s apartment with their two children in March after what police allege was a hoax to convince Marshall they would be moving to Portugal and taking her with them.
The couple then moved their own furniture in, and are believed to have confined Marshall to her bedroom.
Police allege the couple also took Marshall’s life savings, which amounted to $25,000.
Vera Nunes, 32, and Luis Serpa Da Conceicao Santos, 38, were arrested March 26 and are each charged with fraud over $5,000, theft over $5,000, interfering with property and unlawfully being in a dwelling.
Police called it a case of elder abuse.
Speaking about the experience at a news conference at police headquarters on April 2, Marshall said “what it does to you emotionally is worse” than losing the money.
“You don’t need a lot of money when you get old,” she said. “You just need your rent and some food.
“You don’t need a lot, but you do need people around you.”
Police arrested the couple the day they were informed of potential problems by Marshall’s pharmacist, Selina Chan-Ying, and deliveryman Firoz Jogiat.
The two said they became suspicious after weeks of the couple answering Marshall’s door and phone, and went to visit Marshall and demanded to see her.
“I had to do something that morning,” Chan-Ying said.
Once she saw that Marshall wouldn’t make eye contact with her or Jogiat, and seemed scared, they contacted police.
Chan-Ying has since set up a trust fund to receive donations to help Marshall build back the $25,000 she lost. Dahan said there has been a “great” response.
“She’ll be set,” she said. “She’ll be comfortable after that.”
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