MERRILLVILLE | A 45-year-old Hobart woman allegedly wrote more than $125,000 in fraudulent checks, and dozens of other people could face charges in the case, Merrillville police said.
Connie Smith-Passon was charged in Lake Criminal Court with forgery and theft.
A recent audit of American Inter-Fidelity Exchange, a Merrillville insurance company, discovered an irregularity with a claim for damage to a vehicle insured by the business, court records state.
The claim was paid and closed in October 2011, but a supplemental check for the claim was issued in November that year, according to the documents. The check was for about $4,000.
The person who received the check wasn't the owner of the insured vehicle and there were no reports indicating there was more damage to the vehicle or that the check was necessary, court documents state.
The check also had a forged signature of an owner of the insurance company, documents state. A notation on the check also included the words "OK, Ms. Connie," according to court documents.
Smith-Passon, an employee at the insurance company, had no explanation about how the situation occurred when she the was confronted by the business about it, court documents state.
Through a continuation of the audit, 37 similar fraudulent checks were discovered. The checks, which had a total amount of $125,606.81, were not authorized by the insurance company, according to court documents.
An owner of the business told police he didn't give authorization for someone else to sign his name to those checks, which were written between July 2011 and May 2012.
During a recorded interview, Smith-Passon told police she generated 10 to 12 company checks and forged a company's owner name on two or three of them.
She also indicated she believes she generated about $50,000 in fraudulent checks during the last five or six months, according to court documents.
Merrillville police Detective Ray Smith said the people who received the fraudulent checks could face criminal charges, but no charges had been filed against them as of Thursday.