Woman Arrested for Exploiting Disabled Victim
COLUMBIA- In January of 2011, caseworkers at New Horizon's Community Support Center learned that a woman they provide services to was being financially exploited by a person identified as Deanna Harris.
New Horizon's staff learned that the victim and Harris worked together and that Harris had asked the victim to give her change to purchase a soda for a friend. The victim gave Harris the change and Harris told the victim the following day that the soda had made her friend sick. Harris then told the victim she needed to pay for the friend's medical bills. Over the next several weeks, Harris became increasingly hostile and threatening towards the victim. Harris told her she was responsible for the injuries to her friend, and she would pay the medical bills or risk being arrested. The victim then began giving Harris money.
The victim's case workers noticed the drastic change in her financial situation. Law enforcement was contacted and detectives with the Columbia Police Department opened an investigation. Through a subpoena, detectives learned the victim had written several personal checks to Harris from mid 2010 to the present. These checks totaled more than $7,000. The victim also told detectives she cashed out over $12,000 in CD's and gave that money to Harris as well.
Harris was arrested for Financial Explotation of the Elderly/Disabled on Thursday around noon at the Columbia Police Department. This charge is a Class B Felony, with a bond required to be set by the judge. Harris admitted to detectives she knew the victim through work, but claimed to have been selling her "skin-care products" and had only accepted about $2,000 from her.
Police are asking anyone who believes they or a friend, relative, or loved one have been a victim of a similar scam to contact investigators as soon as possible.