Nova Scotia

Vulnerable aunt loses money in cautionary tale

A Nova Scotia family says their aunt's bank account was emptied after a couple well-known to police moved into their aunt's house in Digby.

Digby, N.S. family says $20,000 of aunt's money is unaccounted for

Mark Francis and Cindy Travis hope their story will encourage other families to keep a close eye on elderly family members. (CBC)

A Nova Scotia family says their aunt's bank account was emptied after a couple moved into their aunt's house in Digby.

Mark Francis and Cindy Travis have an aunt they're identifying by her first name, Sandra. She's 67 years old, but her family said she has a disability that gives her the intellect of a 12-year-old.

When Sandra's husband died, she refused to move out of her house in Digby.

In December of 2011, Gail Benoit and Dana Bailey moved in with Sandra. According to Francis and Travis, their aunt mostly made deposits and seldom made any withdrawls.

Bank records indicate that during the months that the two lived with Sandra, there were many withdrawals from her account.

The family also said Sandra applied for a credit card, which was used to pay monthly payments on a new vehicle.

In August of 2012, Sandra left her home and went to a neighbour's. She asked them to call the police.

The niece said about $20,000 in money and cheques is unaccounted for.

Police not investigating

The RCMP told Travis there's no investigation.

"They said Sandra wasn't capable of pressing charges," Travis said. "It wouldn't be admissible in court because she's not of normal mind as we are. She's petrified of these people."

Sandra is no longer living in her Digby home. Benoit and Bailey moved out when she left in August of last year.

CBC contacted Gail Benoit at her home in the Lower Sackville area to see if she had any information. Benoit told reporter Phlis McGregor she had no idea what McGregor was talking about.

A man took the phone from Benoit, said McGregor. McGregor believes the man was Dana Bailey.

"There’s no money went missing from her on our behalf," the man said. "Just don’t call back here no more thank you. Tell her people maybe they should’ve took care of her. Then maybe they would have known what was going on."

Neither Benoit nor Bailey have been investigated or charged with anything.

Family speaking out

Francis said it’s important that the story is made public.

"If we can get this story out and have people realize what can be done to – not just my aunt – but anybody.  Keep an eye on your neighbours. Watch for these things."

Francis said they’re fortunate because Sandra has a strong support system. Nova Scotia’s Public Trustee office now manages Sandra’s estate. She’s now living in a special care home.

"She's going to be looked after," said Francis. "Now, if we can get this a little step further, that it doesn't happen to somebody else – to me, that's the number one goal."

With files from Phlis McGregor