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Caregiver Steals $44,000 From Elderly Woman

(CBS) -- An elderly woman is out $44,000, and the thief is a woman hired to care for her.

CBS 2's Jim Williams looks at how the victim's bank approved dozens of fraudulent checks.

Three years ago, Olga Vanis had just been released from the hospital. Sick, frail and using an oxygen machine, she hired a young caregiver.

"I'm thinking she's doing some work, kitchen work and that. I didn't know what was going on," she says.

Ms. Vanis didn't know the caregiver, Rozenia Mordican, was stealing by forging her signature on more than 40 checks, altogether taking $44,000 from her account at BMO Harris Bank.

"I nearly dropped dead," the victim says.

Mordican eventually pleaded guilty and went to jail. But BMO Harris will not replace the stolen money.

"The way we see it is, the bank had an opportunity to discover this forgery -- 40 individual times," Vanis' attorney, Maria Strohmeier, says.

Now, you might wonder why it took Ms. Vanis so long to discover the theft. According to her attorney, she was recovering from a serious illness and the caregiver intercepted and destroyed her bank statements for four straight months.

Strohmeier says the bank should have protected the victim's money.

"Morally, I think it's reprehensible that they are refusing to honor the legal obligation to an 86-year-old woman who was frail and has no one else to look out for her," she says.

Vanis never married and has no children. Nor does she have relatives nearby. Neighbors are trying to help her.

Jim Kappel, a spokesman for BMO Harris, says for privacy reasons he cannot comment on this case.

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