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Criminals become victims of check fraud, police say

The victims included an embezzler, a welfare defrauder and a drunken driver.

To fulfill the obligations of their sentences, they sent restitution and other court-ordered payments to the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, where Tiffany Rochelle McCallum and Katrice Lashawn Lloyd worked as temporary employees processing the checks and money orders.

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But federal investigators allege the two women - acting separately and at different times - made victims of the convicted criminals.

"It goes a little full-circle," said Elizabeth Bartholomew, a spokeswoman for parole and probation.

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McCallum, 32, and Lloyd, 29, are accused of stealing money orders, investigators said. McCallum allegedly took blank money orders and filled in her name, while Lloyd allegedly altered money orders to make them payable to herself.

The two Baltimore women were indicted last month by a city grand jury on charges that they operated continuing theft schemes, police said. McCallum is accused of stealing $2,511, and Lloyd is accused of taking $4,116.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service arrested them this month.

Lloyd worked at the probation department's Northwest Baltimore office from Jan. 13, 2003, through Aug. 15. McCallum worked there from Aug. 25 to Dec. 2, said Sgt. Lester McCrea, who heads the Baltimore police check and fraud unit.

"It wasn't a conspiracy or a ring," said Frank Schissler, a spokesman for the postal inspection service. "It was just two separate individuals doing the same thing."

Acting on separate tips, investigators recently caught up to the two women, Schissler said.

Parole and probation officials received a tip in October from a convicted embezzler who has since moved to Florida, Bartholomew said.

The embezzler reported that she had made a payment that had been cashed but not credited to her account, according to Bartholomew. Parole officials began investigating and discovered the scheme, she said.

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The U.S. Postal Service, working with Baltimore police, began investigating in January. They received a separate tip that an Anne Arundel County customer's Postal Service money order had been cashed by someone other than the state parole and probation division.

The two investigations converged, and officials found that McCallum had cashed money orders at a Northwest Baltimore check-cashing establishment, where she had opened an account, police said.

Sometimes she added memos to the money orders in an attempt to ease suspicion, McCrea said. On one $500 payment, she noted that it was for a "car purchase," as if the victim had bought a car from her.

Lloyd cashed money orders at M&T; Bank, McCrea said. She disguised them as child support payments, officials said.

Investigators found a variety of victims across the state and country - including a middle-age woman from Greenbelt who had been charged with drunken driving and was making $25 payments toward her fine, and a woman who was convicted of welfare fraud about seven years ago in Prince George's County.

"They were trying to do the right thing," McCrea said.

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The woman convicted of drunken driving said yesterday that she didn't know the money order was missing until parole officials called her.

Bartholomew said probation accounts were credited and money has been sent to the proper recipients.

Offenders send payments to the probation division to pay fines, court costs and restitution.

Bartholomew said the department has added several additional checks and balances to its payment procedures. "We're very confident that it's not ever going to happen again," she said.

But police believe it did happen again - only elsewhere.

McCrea said police are investigating Lloyd in connection with another alleged theft.

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After leaving the Division of Parole and Probation, she took a job as a temporary employee at the city's payroll department.

McCrea said that on March 15, a city employee attempted to pay back an overpayment in wages. The employee received a receipt for the $215 payment, but her account never reflected the transaction.

When police investigated the missing money, McCrea said, they found Lloyd had redirected it.

"She just took that payment," McCrea said, "and applied it to her AT&T; bill."


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