Assisted living facility owner arrested for fraud

A St. Petersburg woman who is supposed to be caring for some of the most vulnerable people -- the elderly and the sick -- was arrested Tuesday, accused of taking advantage of them in a credit card fraud scheme.

St. Petersburg Police said 43-year-old Maria Isabel Matos Infante, is accused of using residents' identities to obtain fraudulent credit cards and in some cases, using the victims' own cards to make illegal purchases.

"We believe there is probably a number of victims out there, that this has been a very prolific activity on her part," said Mike Puetz, a spokesperson for the police department.

Investigators said their investigation into Matos Infante started last month when the daughter of a resident at the suspects' facility, Access Adult Family Care Home on 38th Avenue North, noticed unauthorized activity on her mother's card.

"She started to see some of the credit card statements come in and she saw charges that her mother had no capability of making," Puetz told FOX 13.

In this one case, detectives are looking into whether Matos Infante made more than 20 charges totaling in excess of $2,000. Police said they were able to obtain surveillance video of Matos Infante making at least one of the purchases.

Officers expanded their investigation and said they have identified at least 10 other potential victims of either identity theft, credit card fraud or both. Police are trying to determine how many are residents, family members of residents or victims who are not associated with the facility.

Detectives said the owner also did not have a valid license to operate the facility.

There were six residents currently living at the home. Throughout the day, family members arrived to pick up their loved ones.

"Mind-boggling. If it's true, it's insane to exploit the elderly like that," said Luis Guerrero, whose 84-year-old father had been living at the home since October. "Everybody's innocent until proven guilty. I know they take very good care of him here."

"It's hard for me to believe that she was involved in something like that," added Jorge Vidal, who has a child living there.

Investigators are now looking into whether anyone else might have been involved in the fraud scheme.