Shoals woman charged with exploitation of elderly family member

FLORENCE, Ala. - A woman faces more than 100 felonies in Florence for taking advantage of a family member. Investigators say the charges range from credit card fraud to selling the victim's car.

Investigators call financial exploitation of the elderly a disturbing crime, and one they are seeing an increased number of cases in. The latest case in Florence had been going on for months before being discovered.

Jennifer Hipps, 38, is the latest to be arrested.  Florence Police say they have worked countless hours tracking down financial records in the case.

"At this time we are able to prove approximately $15,000 based on credit card statements, but there is potentially more," said Florence Police Detective Justin Wright.

Detective Wright says Hipps was entrusted to take care of an elderly family member.

"She had extended credit cards; she had renewed credit cards that had since been closed. She opened various credit cards and loans in her name,"
said Wright. "A few weeks ago she was arrested, she had sold her car and forged the bill of sale as well."

Wright says Hipps left the family member almost penniless.  He says prosecutors take this type of crime very seriously.

"Fortunately the state has taken a stand on financial crimes and also physical crimes against the elderly," said Wright.  "We have drafted new laws for financial exploitation and also physical abuse. And the state will aggressively pursue any of the crimes against the elderly."

In all, Hipps faces 136 felony charges related to the financial exploitation of her elderly family member.  She remains in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on bail totaling $143,000.  Investigators say more charges could be filed against Hipps as the investigation continues.