NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A Hampton woman was sentenced to two years in prison for aggravated identity theft for stealing over $21,000 from an elderly client in federal court.

According to court documents, 58-year-old Sandra Payne was employed to provide in-home care for an elderly client in Newport News. While she worked for the resident, Payne gained access to credit and debit card account numbers that belonged to the family of the client.

Payne used the accounts to purchase goods and services that exceeded $21,000 at various places in the Tidewater area. She did this without lawful or the knowledge and consent of the account owners.

“Criminals who use the U.S. Mail to commit identity theft and fraud not only jeopardizes people’s trust in the U.S. postal system, their activities threaten the overall financial health of our communities,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Peter Rendina, U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division. “We will continue to investigate and work with the United States Attorney’s offices to bring individuals engaged in these criminal activities to justice.”

Payne pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft in February.

In 2018, the Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners coordinated the largest sweep of elder fraud cases in history. The cases involved more than 250 defendants from around the globe who victimized more than 1 million Americans, most of whom were elderly.

“The financial and emotional harm these deceitful and illegal acts can cause victims and their family members cannot be overstated,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “The victims in this case entrusted Payne to take care of their elderly family member. Instead, she used that trust to steal over $21,000 from them. I would like to commend the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their terrific work investigating this case.”