ASHVILLE, North Carolina. Chief U.S. District Judge Martin Ridinger today sentenced Lindsey Allison Kearns, 39, of Mars Hill, North Carolina, to 45 months in prison for stealing more than $1 million from two elderly clients in her care, Dena J. King said. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to the jail sentence imposed, Judge Reidinger ordered Kearns to serve three years under court supervision and to pay $1,088,554.99 in damages.
Robert R. Wells, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent, Charlotte Division, and Donald “Trey” Eakins, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI), Charlotte Field Office, join U.S. Attorney King in today’s announcement.
“Most home healthcare providers have a good reputation and are committed to providing quality services to older people they trust. Kearns is not one of them,” said US Attorney King. “This defendant took advantage of two vulnerable seniors, took advantage of their trust and defrauded them of hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a community, we have an obligation to take care of our seniors. And as law enforcement agencies, we have an obligation to put those who harm them behind bars.”
“Lindsey Kearns was hired to take care of two elderly people on a daily basis. She overcharged them by a million dollars, bought trucks, ATVs, expensive clothes and went on a luxurious vacation. This is a case of greed and a breach of trust. The FBI will continue to work with our partners to ensure that anyone who commits crimes against the elderly faces the consequences,” Special Agent Wells said.
“Senior citizens and those who care for them should be on the lookout for various scams targeting older Americans. The IRS recognizes the prevalence of fraud targeting older Americans and we will work with our law enforcement partners to combat these crimes and hold those responsible accountable for their actions,” said Brian Thomas, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of IRS-CI in Charlotte. .
From December 2018 to April 2020, Kearns owned and operated Home Care Coordinators, LLC, which provided home health care in Buncombe and Madison counties, according to information in court documents and litigation. Beginning in December 2018, Kearns arranged for two elderly clients, identified in court filings as SA and PR, to provide home healthcare services, who were 86 and 90 years old, respectively. The two elderly clients lived in Asheville and were close friends. PR also suffered from dementia and was unable to mind his own business. SA served as PR’s proxy and managed and controlled PR’s finances.
Kearns provided SA and PR with home care services throughout 2019 and 2020, according to court documents. During this time, Kearns did not provide SA or PR with detailed billing for her home care services. Instead, Kearns verbally told SA on a weekly basis how much money Kearns claimed she was owed for services rendered, and SA wrote checks for those amounts from PR’s bank accounts. In the course of this scheme, Kearns defrauded older victims in a variety of ways, including overcharging them for services that were overpriced or never provided; double billing them for other services, such as cleaning and moving, that were either not provided or were provided by caregivers during billings already billed; and by billing at a higher rate than what Kearns and the victims agreed to.
From December 2018 to April 2020, Kearns ordered SA to pay and received $1,465,546.99 for home health care and other services allegedly provided by Kearns to the victims, according to court documents. The actual fair market value of services rendered by Kearns to victims was $376,992. Thus Kearns overpriced SA and PR by $1,088,554.99 for services that were never delivered.
Kearns used the money she swindled from the victims to buy cars and ATVs, to buy luxury retail items, and to pay for hotel stays and vacation rentals.
According to court records, when Kearns learned she was under investigation by the FBI and IRS, she made a number of false statements to federal agents related to her commercial activities. For example, Kearns lied about issuing IRS Form 1099 to her employees, lied about purchases she made with victims’ money, and lied about extra income she received from another client. Additionally, after Kearns received a grand jury subpoena requiring her to provide certain business records, Kearns fabricated such records and issued false invoices based on amounts she believed she received from SA and PR instead of provide invoices for actual services rendered.
On February 9, 2022, Kearns pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. She is currently out on bail and will be ordered to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon federal agency appointment.
In making a statement today, US Attorney King thanked the FBI and IRS-CI for their investigation into this case. The US Attorney’s Office in Asheville led the prosecution.
If you or someone you know who is 60 or older has been the victim of financial fraud, help is always available at the National Senior Fraud Helpline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311 ). This United States Department of Justice hotline, operated by the Office of Victims of Crime, has experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing a victim’s needs and determining appropriate next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with the appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud, and reporting certain financial losses from fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering damages. The hotline is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm EST, Monday through Friday. English, Spanish and other languages are available.