Christen Rector, a former Plantation, Florida elementary school bookkeeper, was arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 from various schools, news sources indicate. Rector, 37, was booked into the Broward County Jail on charges of fraud and larceny/grand theft of $100,000 or more. She was later released on a $32,500 bail bond. It is not yet known whether she has hired an attorney.
Reports say Rector began working as a bookkeeper for the Peters Elementary School in Plantation in 2007. She stepped down from the position following her arrest on Tuesday. A statement from the school regarding the allegations was not immediately available.
The alleged fraud began as far back as 2009, reports say. According to detectives, Rector pretended to be the head of C&J Supplies, a cleaning supplies business that never actually existed. Rector reportedly contacted out-of-state schools and offered to sell them thousands of dollars in cleaning supplies. Many of the schools were interested in the deal and mailed Rector checks to pay for the goods, sources say. Rector allegedly cashed the checks at stores in Sunrise, Florida without sending any supplies to the schools. Reports say Rector focused on schools from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Texas, and South Dakota.
According to reports, Broward County detectives first learned of the alleged scam in December 2012, when a school representative in Sterling, Kansas told police that the school had ordered supplies from C&J Supplies but never received the goods. The school said they paid the company over $8,000 for the missing supplies.
The Piper Unified School District No. 203 in Kansas City, Kansas was another of Rectors alleged victims, reports say. A spokesperson said the district purchased over $10,000 worth of cleaning products from Rector’s company but never received a single shipment. “It took quite a bit of time for us to unravel it here,” the spokesperson said. Reports say the school did not notice the alleged fraud right away because purchases of less than $10,000 often go unnoticed in their records. “If she’s a bookkeeper, she probably recognizes the process and figured an inconspicuous way of doing it,” the spokesperson said.
The North Park School District Superintendent in Walden, Colorado says it also fell victim to Rector’s alleged scam. A spokesperson from the district said it paid for about $5,000 for cleaning supplies from Rector’s faux business. However, a turnover within the schools’ financial sector allowed the alleged fraud to go unnoticed. “Bills just showed up and then, like I said, I’m surprised we didn’t catch it earlier because we’re a smaller district,” the spokesperson said.
Police traced the crimes back to Florida and confronted Rector with the evidence. She reportedly confessed that the company C&J Supplies was not real; she also reportedly said she never planned to ship the items she sold to the schools. Reports say she also claimed all responsibility for the alleged scam. It remains to be seen whether the schools that fell pray to the alleged fraud will get their money back. This is especially sensitive given the current financial plight of many public schools in America.