A 54-year-old woman who for more than 30 years was considered to be a trusted employee of the Conceição de Faro parish council, attending the needs of old folk living in rural areas, is suspected of swindling them of money and social security benefits.
Police investigating the case allege that more than a dozen people were the victims of an extortion racket and swindle amounting to more than €20,000, according to a report in Correio da Manhã newspaper.
It is alleged that she gained the confidence of old retired people and withdrew money from their accounts but kept a percentage for herself.
She is also accused of falsifying documents to make applications on behalf of old people to the social security (Segurança Social) but pocketed the payments.
In other cases, she demanded amounts of several thousand euros from aged rural house-owners,ostensibly topay for security services, which pressurised them to ask for bank loans, said the report.
The woman, who was detained by police and appeared in court, has been suspended from her employment and prohibited from contacting any of the victims until the case is legally dealt with, the Polícia Judiciária confirmed to the Algarve Resident.
The PJ were alerted to the possible fraud by the Segurança Social and started their inquiries last year.
According to the newspaper report, the President of the parish council (Junta de Freguesia da Conceição), José António, said that during his term of office he had never had any reason to mistrust her.