A 27-year-old Ocala woman is facing numerous felony charges after an elderly man accused her of forging multiple checks and stealing over $20,000.
On October 17, the elderly victim contacted the Marion County Sheriff’s Office regarding an alleged fraud incident that had occurred at his residence. The victim stated that approximately “seven to eight months ago,” he hired Aushanti Tumayia Woods to be his housekeeper, according to the arrest report.
The victim stated that he had met Woods while his spouse was in a memory care facility, and he ultimately offered Woods a job at his residence. The report stated that the victim had recently discovered that “numerous checks” had been stolen from his home over a period spanning several months.
According to the victim’s statement, Woods “made the checks out to herself,” forged his signature, and cashed them for approximately $30,000 out of his primary checking account. The report stated that the first check was cashed earlier this year, on March 28, and the last check was cashed on October 6.
An MCSO deputy responded to the victim’s residence and collected copies of over a dozen checks totaling $22,320 that the victim claimed were fraudulently cashed. The victim advised that the signatures on the checks were not his.
On October 18, an MCSO corporal began investigating the case and learned that five of the fraudulent checks had been cashed inside a Walmart Supercenter in The Villages, and 15 of the checks had been cashed at a convenience store in Ocala. Each of those checks were made out to Woods and endorsed by her, according to the report.
While reviewing the checks that were cashed by Woods at the convenience store, the corporal observed that several of the checks appeared to be legitimately written by the victim to Woods.
The corporal noted in the report that when these “legitimate” checks were compared to the copies of fraudulent checks provided by the victim, the handwriting was “obviously different.” In addition, the check numbers were “all out of sequence,” which indicated that the fraudulent checks were “taken from different check books.”
The victim informed the corporal that Woods had worked for him as a caregiver for his spouse for the last eight months or so, and she was paid weekly. The victim further advised that Woods was aware of the location where he typically stored his checkbook.
On Tuesday, November 28, Woods was taken into custody and transported to the MCSO South Multi-District Office for an interview. After being read her Miranda rights, she admitted to taking the victim’s checks, making them out to herself, forging the victim’s name, and then cashing them, according to the report.
Woods was placed under arrest, transported to Marion County Jail, and she was released the following day on $53,000 bond. She is facing felony charges for one count of exploiting the elderly ($10,000 to under $50,000) and 19 counts of uttering a forged instrument.
A court date has not been scheduled yet, according to jail records.