A suburban West Palm Beach woman was arrested this week after authorities said she and three others cashed fake checks at a check-cashing store.
Natasha Ponce, 21, was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on Tuesday night on charges of fraud and grand theft. She was released Wednesday morning after posting $9,000 bond.
According to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office probable cause affidavit, deputies were called to the store in suburban Boynton Beach on Nov. 11. An employee told them four people had cashed fake checks three days earlier. The checks bore the name of Tri-Star Urinalysis in suburban West Palm Beach and had a Bank of America routing number. The bank contacted the check-cashing store and informed them the account had been closed.
Ponce, Ronald Terrell, Michael Wells and Island Valceus provided identification and had their pictures taken by the store’s employee when they each came in and cashed a check between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Nov. 13. The store lost about $1,876 from the transactions.
Ponce told deputies someone gave her the check to pay for a debt owed to her, the affidavit said. Ponce also said she made a mistake by cashing the check, but she needed the money at the time.
Valceus said the check she cashed was for hours she worked at the company. However, detectives said company records did not show any of the four people worked there.
Boynton Beach Police also were investigating a similar incident that happened the same day at another store in Boynton Beach. Four people each cashed a fake check using the same business and account information. Detectives identified Terrell as one of the suspects.
A sheriff’s deputy was investigating another incident which happened Nov. 8 in suburban West Palm Beach involving four people, four fake checks, the same business and bank information. Terrell was named as a suspect.
Delray Beach Police were following four people who committed the same ruse Nov. 6 and Nov. 7.
State business documents showed the registration for the business on the checks had been cancelled in January 2013. The former owners said they had turned it over to Ronald and Janet Terrell, the affidavit said.
Bank of America said 31 checks, totalling about $13, 710, were written on the closed account during October. At the end of the month, the account was in the red $5,309, so the bank forcefully closed it Nov. 5.
Terrell, 38, was arrested March 15, but has since been released on bond.
Jail records do not indicate the other two were arrested on fraud and grand theft charges.