- Associated Press - Friday, July 18, 2014

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Two Florida women who said they were recruited to join a cross-country fraudulent check-cashing scheme are in custody in Montana.

Tiffany Denise Dale, 29, and Catherine Linn Tucker, 39, of Dania Beach, Florida, were arrested in Billings this week and made an initial appearance in Justice Court on Thursday, where bail was set at $500,000 each, The Billings Gazette (https://bit.ly/1jFApJF) reported.

Assistant Public Defender Casey Moore requested their bond be set at $10,000 each, saying Tucker told him she didn’t have a criminal background and that Dale said she had a 19-day-old baby to care for.

The women are scheduled to be arraigned in District Court on July 25, when they will enter pleas to charges of felony forgery, common scheme.

The women were arrested after trying to pass a forged check for $2,350 at the drive-up window at a Stockman Bank branch, charging documents said. The teller became suspicious and called police.

Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Margaret R. Gallagher said the women were believed to be part of a “very organized, very meticulous criminal enterprise” that stretched from Florida to Oregon and back and likely involved hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen money.

The women are believed to have cashed forged checks for about $30,000 in Yellowstone County while banks in Bozeman, Belgrade and Great Falls also may have been defrauded, Gallagher said.

The women said the scheme included five other people who gave them forged checks, fake identities and wigs and coached them over the phone to pass the checks at bank drive-up lanes along the route. The women were allowed to keep 10 percent of the value of each of the successfully passed check when they returned to Florida, court records said.

The identities and location of the other five people reportedly involved are unclear, court records said.


Information from: The Billings Gazette, https://www.billingsgazette.com

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