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Elderly Landlord Reportedly Victimized by Tenant, $77K Allegedly Stolen

Incidents of fraud against seniors have significantly risen across the nation.
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Ron Lach
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Ron Lach

Exploitation of the elderly has emerged as a distressing issue within Miami-Dade County, a matter brought to the forefront by State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle. Recent occurrences have starkly illuminated the gravity of this concern, casting a spotlight on the vulnerability of the elderly population. Just this week, the authorities took decisive action, apprehending two individuals suspected of preying upon and defrauding elderly victims.

Image Source: Photo by Karolina Grabowska | Pexels
Representative Image: Photo by Karolina Grabowska | Pexels

Yaroslan Bartutis is one of the accused, facing charges related to fraudulent activities against his former landlord, Valentino Zolli. Bartutis stands accused of utilizing Zolli's bank account to settle his own credit card bills and luxury car payments, amounting to over $77,000.

Doral Police Chief Edwin Lopez expressed bewilderment at Bartutis's inability to provide a plausible explanation for these transactions. "He couldn't explain why he had charged in excess of $77,000. He couldn't provide the means of payment for a Lamborghini, for thousands of dollars in credit card payments," Lopez said.

Zolli, a resident of Venezuela, entrusted a realtor with the management of his property, which Bartutis occupied. The accused would purportedly make rent payments via bank transfer each month, providing him access to the landlord's account details. However, it wasn't until approximately nine months later, during his annual accounting, that Zolli discovered the unauthorized transactions.

Image Source: cottonbro studio/Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Cotton-bro Studio | Pexels

Expressing his frustration, Zolli lamented the lack of security measures from the bank. "You're better off saving your money under a mattress instead of the bank," he said.

In court, Bartutis's defense attorney, Jose Teurbe-Tolon, contested the charge of elderly exploitation, citing the absence of the victim's age in the police report. However, the landlord later told NBC6 that he is 67 years old, reinforcing the severity of the alleged exploitation.

Huy Phan | Unsplash
Image Source: Photo by Huy Phan | Unsplash

In a separate case highlighting the grim reality of elderly exploitation, Manuel Diaz stands accused of embezzling approximately $50,000 from his 95-year-old mother. Following the death of his father, Diaz purportedly persuaded his mother to transfer funds into a joint account, which he subsequently drained.

As a result, the elderly woman faced the threat of eviction, left with minimal financial resources and support. Fernandez-Rundle condemned the accused's actions. "Even when he knew that she was going to be evicted, she didn't have the money, all he did was give her $6,000 and then left. Left her in the lurch," she said.

However, with the intervention of the State Attorney's Office, the 95-year-old was able to secure alternative housing. Despite the allegations leveled against them, Diaz's family maintains his innocence.

Pexels | Photo by Pixabay
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Pixabay

"When older adults are intentionally seeking and sharing knowledge on how current scams are perpetrated, along with what red flags to look for, this builds the ability to reflect on the situation while it is occurring, as well as to pause and reflect," explained Soo-Lynn Getz, Director of Fraud Prevention at Zelle. "The power of that pause could support an older adult in stopping the emotional response to act without thinking."