Cynthia Rodriguez, a former finance coordinator at a dentist’s office in Pembroke Pines, was arrested last Thursday for allegedly stealing over $85,000 worth of checks. Rodriguez, 38, was booked into Broward County jail on suspicion of embezzlement. She was later released after posting $5,000 bail bond. News sources did not specify a defense attorney for Rodriquez.
According to reports, Rodriguez used to be a financial coordinator for Dr. Hakan Kinaci at Pembroke Pines Dental Associates. Over a period between July 2012 and December 2013, Rodriguez purportedly stole 237 checks written by patients. The checks were worth $85,353 total, sources say.
The discrepancies were first noticed in January 2014, according to reports. When her employer confronted her about the missing money, Rodriguez purportedly claimed that she took $11,000 due to kleptomania. Reports say she promised to repay the funds. However, Pembroke Pines Dental Associates fired Rodriguez and performed a complete review of her bank accounts, sources state.
The review reportedly revealed Rodriguez had been depositing stolen checks to her personal bank account via an ATM for a period of 18 months before her activities were discovered. Police claim to have surveillance footage of Rodriguez periodically using an ATM to deposit the checks into her bank account.
Fraud and embezzlement are prevalent across Florida. The state is considered the fraud capitol of the United States by many financial institutions. Fraud crime comes in many forms ranging from tax fraud to bank fraud to insurance fraud.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft is the most common form of fraud in the United States, making up on average 14% of all fraud incidents in the country. Earlier this week, five men were sentenced in federal court by U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas in a huge fraud case. The men allegedly defrauded $108 million from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by filing bogus tax returns using 29,000 stolen identities. The press has called it “one of the biggest tax refund fraud schemes in the history of the United States.”
The ringleader of the group, Harlan Decoste, was sentenced to 19.5 years in federal prison on Thursday. In addition to his prison sentence, Decoste has to pay the IRS $28.2 million in restitution.