WESTERLY — A statewide alert issued by Citizens Bank helped officers track two women who had taken checks from an unlocked car in Charlestown and tried to use them to withdraw money from a bank account, the police said.
Audrey Natalizia, 58, and Eden Lahr, 59, both of 4043 Old Post Road, Charlestown, were arrested Tuesday afternoon on charges of forgery and counterfeiting, conspiracy to commit forgery, and misdemeanor possession of stolen goods. They were arraigned in Fourth Division District Court on Wednesday and were held without bail pending a status conference on May 29, according to court records.
Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said the women were arrested after trying to cash checks at Citizens Bank branches in Wakefield and Westerly. In Westerly they went to the branches at 11 Airport Road and 112 Franklin St., the police said.
"We were notified that the two had just left Citizens Bank (on Franklin Street) in a blue cab after attempting to cash the fradulent check," Lacey said. "The cab was easy to spot and we were able to stop it along Route 1 before they had left town."
According to a police report, the two women showed up late Tuesday morning with a $400 check made out to Natalizia, but a teller at the Wakefield branch denied their request, and they walked out with it. The bank immediately issued a fraud alert that included the account information.
An investigation determined that the women had spoken with the cab driver and decided to try branches in Westerly. They ripped the $400 check and then tried to cash one for $200, first at the Airport Road / Stop & Shop branch and then at the Franklin Street branch, the police said.
Police said the checks were later found in Natalizia's possession.
Lacey said officers determined that the checks, which belonged to an elderly Charlestown woman, were taken from her truck while she was out of town. Lahr forged the woman's signature, the police said.
Lacey said the department notified the police in Charlestown police and South Kingstown, and it would be up to them to determine if additional charges are warranted for the theft and attempted check cashing.