Prosecutors: Woman pleads guilty to swindling in-laws

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A Rocky Mount woman accused of bilking her elderly in-laws out of nearly $100,000 has pleaded guilty to a pair of federal charges, U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon’s office announced Monday.

Elizabeth Williamson entered guilty pleas on charges of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in a Raleigh federal courtroom, according to Don Connelly, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Williamson wrote phony checks to herself drawn on her in-laws’ bank account, intercepted and deposited checks made out to them, shopped online with their bank cards and replaced the couple’s medication with vitamins while acting as their caretaker for a roughly two-year period from 2015-17, Connelly said in a news release.

Prosecutors say she stole about $96,500 from her in-laws’ accounts.

Connelly said Williamson obtained a power of attorney designation giving her access to the elderly couple’s bank accounts and submitted a forged change-of-address form to the post office redirecting her in-laws’ mail to her home.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated, leading to the federal charges against Williamson. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamika Moses is prosecuting the case. A date for Williamson’s sentencing hearing has not been announced.

Authorities encourage people to report suspected elder fraud and abuse by calling the Victim Connect Hotline at 1-855-4VICTIM (484-2846) between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays, calling the Eastern District U.S. attorney’s elder justice coordinator at 919-856-4530 or visiting www.justice.gov/elderjustice.

Elder fraud complaints can also be filed with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP or visiting www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.