A former Shalimar resident is charged with exploiting a partially disabled 75-year-old woman and her terminally ill 80-year-old husband while working as their housekeeper and helper between September 2018 and April 2019.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office arrested 45-year-old Elissa Pedersen on charges of exploitation of elderly persons between $10,000 and $50,000, fraudulent use of credit cards, false verification of ownership to a pawnbroker and criminal use of personal identification information.
The victims say they had been paying Pederson $400 a week to help with housework, cooking, getting the mail and similar tasks.
The victim was contacted by Discover Card regarding suspicious charges and said she never owned or applied for a Discover Card and that Elissa Pedersen was listed as an authorized user on the account. She also discovered multiple charges she did not make on department store cards and discovered purchases made with her bank credit card on Amazon.com, even though she has never had an Amazon account. In addition, she suspected jewelry and some of her husband’s medications were missing.
The investigator says he showed her a photo of jewelry that had been pawned by Pedersen in January 2019 and the woman began to cry, positively identifying pieces of jewelry belonging to her and her husband, along with other items. Pedersen had also taken and pawned gold chains belonging to the husband and a unique “I love you” inscribed wedding pendant that both victims had designed together. It cannot be recovered as it was melted down. The husband’s gold and diamond wedding band worth more than $5,000 is also missing and has not been recovered.
In addition, the investigation determined Pederson made numerous fraudulent charges on the fraudulently obtained Discover card, including funding a trip to New Orleans complete with a carriage ride.
Other credit cards revealed fraudulent charges for clothing, perfume and designer handbags. An active warrant for Pedersen was approved May 16, and the case was featured by Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers in June. Facebook posts indicated Pedersen had gone to Michigan and Detroit area Crime Stoppers also assisted in publicizing the search.
Pedersen turned herself in on Monday. The investigation is ongoing.