21-year-old charged with stealing from blind woman's bank account

ASHLAND — A 21-year-old woman is charged with numerous counts of identity theft and fraud after allegedly draining a blind woman's bank account while helping her run errands last year.

Investigators believe Chamika Emmalia Fujioka was paid to help the blind woman run day-to-day errands such as trips to the grocery store and the bank. In several of these bank runs, Fujioka was tasked with withdrawing money from the woman's account.

"She had the woman's PIN and would basically do double transactions," Ashland Police Sgt. Jim Alderman said.

Fujioka would withdraw the money the woman asked for and money for herself, police said.

"She did this on multiple occasions and the woman didn't find out about it until later," Alderman said. "She would get the woman her $40 and then withdraw $400 for herself."

The crimes reportedly occurred last fall. The victim has since moved to the Portland area. Once she discovered her bank balance was lower than it should be, she called the police.

Fujioka's case is scheduled for a Jackson County grand jury soon. She is charged with 19 counts of identity theft, one count of aggravated identity theft, eight counts of first-degree theft, eight counts of felony credit card fraud, 19 counts of misdemeanor credit card fraud and 17 counts of second-degree theft.

Investigators allege the victim lost between $6,000 and $8,000 during the period in which the crimes occurred.

At this point, police have found no evidence that there were any more victims involved. Fujioka is not cooperating with the investigation, Alderman said.

Police advise that anyone who seeks to hire someone to help them with various chores should perform a background check on the applicant and install a checks-and-balances system that might catch fraudulent activity before the loss becomes too large.

It is also a good idea to have your bank inform you of any suspicious transactions, such as numerous withdrawals made on one day.

"It all comes down to being sure you know who you're handing your credit card to," Alderman said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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