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Friday, July 30, 2004



Alleged check forger
to be charged


Police plan to file 19 felony charges today against a 36-year-old Waianae woman who allegedly used stolen checks and a counterfeit Hawaii driver's license to defraud numerous Oahu retailers of several thousand dollars in property from a car to pizzas.

"She was just going crazy out there," said Lt. Pat Tomasu, head of the Honolulu Police Department's Financial Fraud Detail, who has four detectives working on the cases.

The suspect was hiding out in Leeward Oahu and had allegedly committed the crimes while out on bail on a prior forgery between February and June, police said. She was arrested Wednesday in Maili.

The checks, which belonged to various people and businesses, were stolen from residential mailboxes in different Oahu neighborhoods, including Kaimuki and Mililani, and a Liliha post office box, police said.

The woman faces nine counts of second-degree forgery, five counts of identity theft and five counts of theft.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Tomasu said. Police said the suspect could be involved in at least 20 more cases because they are seeing checks with similar handwriting.

"If we can slow her down, it'll put a big dent in some of our forgery cases," Tomasu said.

At Shaka Auto Sales, the woman allegedly used a $1,000 counterfeit check as a down payment for a used car. She allegedly used a 57-year-old woman's stolen checks, according to police.

She also passed forged checks at Office Depot, the Bike Shop and Macy's using a woman's stolen identification card, police said.

Tomasu said the suspect was apparently aware of which businesses do not have immediate check-verification capabilities. "We see a lot of pizzas bought," she said.

Tomasu said the suspect also seemed to know when a business received in its post office box its order of checks, which were stolen.

U.S. postal inspectors assisted police in the investigation.

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