Attorney General working to protect seniors from scams, fraud

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PHOENIX - Elderly individuals can be the target of abuse from caregivers, family members or others trying to take advantage of an individual, but the Arizona Attorney General's office wants to help you taken action.

They hope Brenda Bertel's story will inspire people in bad situations to report the crime.

“I slept in the wheelchair," Brenda Bertel said. "I would take a pillow and lay a pillow on the armrest.”

It's a horrendous case of caregiver abuse at taxpayer expense.

“I wanted to say something but I was afraid to because I don't want to go to a nursing home,” she said.

Investigators say Carol Acha-Morfaw was cashing in on Brenda's medicaid to the tune of $27,000.

She was supposed to come take care of Brenda every day. Instead, four days a week, Brenda was left alone.

“I wear support hose so the heat from those because they tend to put off heat, caused blisters on my leg,” she said.

“So how long did it go on?” 3 On Your Side’s Carey Pena asked.

“A year,” Brenda replied. “Until she was caught”

 “It's sad,” special agent David Lakey from the Arizona Attorney General's Office said.

Lakey investigated Brenda's case.

He sought prosecution and Carol Acha-Morfaw ended up pleading guilty

“It makes me sad that somebody would do that,” Brenda said.

She said she was terrified to come forward because she didn't want to lose her independence.

She likes living on her own, taking the bus to her church in Gilbert where she teaches bible study.

Too often fear and intimidation prevent seniors from coming forward, reporting cases of abuse, financial fraud or scams.

The AG’s Task Force Against Senior Abuse wants to change that, and they hope Brenda's story will inspire people to speak out.

“I want people to know that the Attorney General’s office is serious about investigating these cases and to give us a call,” Lakey said.

TASA’s phone number is 602-542-2124. Residents outside of Maricopa County call 1-800-352-8431. Their email address is SeniorAbuse@azag.gov.

You can also email 3OYS@azfamily.com if you have a situation you want us to look into.