Tamara Demps of Broward County, Florida was arrested Wednesday for allegedly stealing checks from business mailboxes, altering the recipients’ names and cash amounts, and cashing them herself, news sources report. Demps, 44, was booked into the Paul Rein Detention Facility on 13 counts of uttering a forged instrument and 14 counts of grand theft. Her bail was set at $83,000. Reports did not specify whether she has hired a lawyer.
Sources say that Demps has faced a slew of theft and battery charges in the past. Beginning in 1992, she has been arrested 19 times, reports say. During a court hearing following her most recent arrest, a Broward County judge said that if she decides to post bail, she would have to prove that the funds used were not linked to the check fraud.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Inspector’s Office said check thieves typically use IDs that feature old addresses. That way, when the banks discover the fraud, the suspect is harder to track down. The thieves also cash the checks at banks that did not issue the checks to avoid being caught. It is not yet known whether Demps employed either of these this tactics in the alleged theft.
According to reports, since April 2012, Demps had been going to businesses in St. Lucie, Broward, and Palm Beach counties and stealing checks from business mailboxes. The alleged thefts occurred mostly on days when she knew the businesses were closed. After she attained the checks, reports say Demps would use chemicals to remove the recipient’s name and replace it with her own. She progressed to allegedly modify the check’s amount as well.
A few specific examples of the fraud have been released to the public. Demps reportedly stole one check for $629.78 and cashed it under her name in June 2010. In December 2010, Demps allegedly altered a check for $2 to reflect a payment of $2,788 and then cashed it in her name. Detectives say the largest fraud was a check for $1,981.25, which Demps changed to $4,581.25 and cashed in August 2010.
Sources say the Miramar U.S Postal Inspector’s Office began receiving reports of missing checks in Palm Beach and Broward County sometime after the fraud began. Detectives launched an investigation and tracked some of the stolen checks back to Demps, reports say. Police have not released all the details of that investigation.
In other news, Jeremy Francis Wilmoth of Palm Beach County was arrested Monday after he was accused of spearing undersize lobsters, reports say. Wilmoth was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on multiple charges, including possession of 18 undersized lobster tails. He was also cited for not having a saltwater fishing license. It is unclear whether he qualified for bail or hired legal representation.
Reports say the incident occurred at the Port Largo Canal. After receiving a complaint around 1:30 p.m., Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers responded to the canal and confronted Wilmoth. Reports say Wilmoth attempted to conceal his spear gun and catch bag by dropping them into the canal; however, the officers retrieved them following Wilmoth’s arrest, reports say.