The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 18, 2013

'Secret shopper' charged in $9,600 theft

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

LEWISBURG — LEWISBURG — An odd case of a counterfeit check deposited in 2012 leaves a bank out almost $10,000 and a Luzerne County woman charged with theft.

Carolyn Nutter, 51, of Wilkes-Barre, told officials in May 2012 that she received the check for about $9,600 as a “secret shopper.” While she had not made the deposit herself, she would not tell officials who did, according to the affidavit filed by state police at Milton.

Nutter is accused of theft by deception, a third-degree felony, stemming from the deposit of the check into her account at Susquehanna Bank.

She is scheduled for arraignment Nov. 4 in Union County Court. She is free on $50,000 unsecured bail. District Judge Leo S. Armbruster conducted her preliminary hearing Sept. 12.

A criminal complaint against Nutter was filed in Union County last September, but she was arraigned Aug. 26 by District Judge Jeffrey Mensch.

Officials of Susquehanna Bancshares Inc., which oversees Susquehanna Bank, contacted state police at Milton in July 2012 to report that in April, an unknown woman deposited a check for $9,600 into Nutter’s account at a bank branch in Allentown.

Nutter’s account had been established at the bank’s location on Westbranch Highway in Kelly Township, Union County. On April 21, Nutter arrived at the Lewisburg branch and withdrew $4,800, verifying her identity with her driver’s license, which listed a Plymouth address. Plymouth is about five miles west of Wilkes-Barre.

That same day, Nutter made several point-of-sale purchases at area Walmart and Kmart stores. She also allegedly made another over-the-counter withdrawal and ATM withdrawals on the account for a total of just more than $5,100.

On April 25, Susquehanna Bancshares officials said the initial-deposit check was returned as a counterfeit, causing Nutter’s account to be overdrawn by nearly $10,000, according to the affidavit.

Lewisburg branch officials tried to contact Nutter, who did not return phone calls, the affidavit stated. In May 2012, the bank had sent Nutter a certified letter. She responded to bank officials that she had received the check as a “secret shopper.”