DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said the brother of a 99-year-old woman led investigators to a massive fraud scheme in Destin.
Deputies arrested Sheena Russell, 45, out of Navarre on July 6 for grand theft, fraud and exploitation. Russell is accused of taking nearly $600,000 from a woman’s account to spend on extravagant vacations and bills.
The brother of the Destin woman tipped off investigators after the 99-year-old moved into a senior living home. The brother lives out of state and became responsible for her financial accounts. He told OCSO he noticed large money transfers to Russell over the last few years.
OCSO spoke with the victim over Facetime. She confirmed that she never allowed Russell to take any money from the accounts.
Russell is known to the family for helping the women run errands after her husband passed away. Russell met the woman and her late husband while working as a waitress in Fort Walton Beach. Russell now works as a waitress in Destin.
Bank records pulled by OCSO show wire transfers to Russell’s account between March 30, 2020 and Sept. 22, 2021 for more than $582,647.
OCSO spoke with Russell’s original attorney. They claimed the victim and Russell had a joint business venture. OCSO said the office could not provide documents to prove a business relationship for the money transfers.
Investigators said Russell spent that money to pay off her mortgage, buy a car, fund trips to Walt
Disney World, Pigeon Forge Tennessee, the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, Washington, D.C., and a ski trip to Utah.
The victim’s brother told OCSO that he believes Russell tried to keep the woman away from family members to hide the scheme.
Russell has been released from Okaloosa County Jail on a $60,000 bond. OCSO said Russell declined to give a formal statement to investigators and has since fired her attorney.