Jessica Henry, 31, and Gregory Dushan, 28, were arrested on May 15, charged with exploitation of an elderly person, according to a DeLand police report.
The couple allegedly tricked their victim into paying a total of about $50,000 by posing as a probation officer and demanding payments for a urine test. They even threatened to send in a SWAT team.
The scam came to light when the suicidal victim phoned the Veterans Crisis Center after his bank told him he had no money left.
With the U.S. Coast Guard veteran still on the phone, the Crisis Center contacted DeLand police, prompting an investigation.
According to police investigators, the couple had known their victim for three years, living in the same area at the time.
Initially Jessica Henry persuaded the unnamed victim to give her money to feed her kids and for transportation to take them to school, according to police.
The couple then moved out of the area.
Then, about six months ago, she phoned him and said she had been arrested and needed money for a urine test for her probation officer.
According to the report, the veteran said he received daily calls from Dushan, demanding sums between $150 and $1,000, threatening to put the 82-year-old in jail if he did not pay up. Posing as the officer, Dushan also threatened to seize the veteran’s vehicle. To avoid having it seized, the veteran gave the vehicle to Dushan’s partner, Henry.
According to WKMG, Dushan was found driving the car at Henry’s residence on West Lison Parkway.
Authorities have since recovered the vehicle.
According to an arrest reported cited by WKMG, Dushan threatened to send in a SWAT team and kick down the veteran’s doors if he failed to pay.
Both suspects are charged with exploitation of an elderly person between the amounts of $20,000 and $100,000. Dushan is additionally charged with impersonating a correction/probation officer.
They may face further charges over several alleged death threats made to the veteran prior to Dushan’s arrest telling him he had a half hour to drop the charges.
“Both suspects in this case intentionally coerced and deliberately deceived the victim causing him to deplete his bank account to support their drug habit, according to the investigation,” said the police report. “The victim was then notified by the bank that his account had a negative balance, which prompted him to want to kill himself because he felt this was his only solution. The investigation revealed that Dushan and Henry spent more than $500 per day of money they stole from the victim to support their drug use.”
Dushan and Henry were both transported to the Volusia County Branch Jail. Dushan’s bail was set at $35,000, and Henry’s at $10,000.
It is unclear whether they have been released on bail.
According to WKMG, the police department are looking for ways to help the 82-year-old, who has been left unable to cover his rent.
The city of DeLand lies about 40 miles to the north of the city of Orlando in the middle of the state of Florida.
Florida has a particularly high number of elderly people who could be vulnerable to exploitation. It has the highest percentage of over-65s of any state in the country, at around 19 percent.
The crime of exploitation of the elderly covers a broad range of circumstances in which a person has abused used their relationship, business relationship, or position of trust to exploit the victim.