EDMONDS, Wash. — A 51-year-old Lynnwood woman was arrested for allegedly defrauding an Edmonds dental business where she was the office manager.
The woman allegedly stole $130,000, according to a media release from the City of Edmonds on Wednesday.
And that’s not the first she was arrested for fraud. Detective Julie Govantes, from the Edmonds Police Department, was assigned the case and found out the woman had a previous arrest and conviction from 2014 for defrauding another dentist’s office. In that case, she was convicted of theft.
Detective Govantes contacted the two other dentists’ offices where the woman had worked. Both businesses said they fired the woman but didn’t call the police after she agreed to pay them back.
EPD said the investigation started in September 2022 when the owner of the Edmonds dentistry filed a report.
The owner said she thought an employee, someone she had known for almost 30 years, was defrauding the business in her role as office manager. The owner said she first saw suspicious activity in 2017 but addressed it with the employee and thought that would be the end of it.
In September 2022, the owner hired a consultant to perform a business audit and found out the office manager had allegedly opened multiple accounts in the name of the business or business owner and made purchases for herself. The woman was then fired.
Detective Govantes worked with multiple search warrants, banks, credit card companies, and the owner to reconcile the purchases.
The amount in question was over $250,000 in charges. Detective Govantes established evidence that the woman had defrauded the business and owner over $130,000 with purchases of jewelry, shoes, clothes, handbags, makeup, and other personal items.
The news release said there was evidence that the woman allegedly took advantage of the trust the owner had in her.
Detective Govantes encourages businesses to use an auditor.
“Small businesses should routinely use an outside auditor to review their accounts and business practices. Owners should make sure there is regular communication and oversight of those who are responsible for the company’s finances. Enabling fraud alerts and investigating those notifications is crucial,” she said.
The 51-year-old woman was arrested on Thursday for theft and identity theft. She was booked into the Snohomish County Jail.
The news release said the woman has since been released from jail pending official charges.
Detective Govantes is working with the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office as they review the case.
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