ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A 48-year-old realty office manager was arrested Friday morning on charges of grand theft over $100,000 and organized scheming to defraud over $50,000.
Belinda Peral, of St. Johns County, was released three hours later after posting $50,000 bond.
Detective Hank Miller with the Sheriff's Office Financial Crimes Unit began an investigation four months ago when the victim had discovered alleged fraudulent practices by an employee who had been recently terminated for falsifying documents, according to investigators.
Investigators said that between Jan. 1, 2013, and July 31, Peral engaged in an organized and ongoing scheme to defraud and grand theft by keeping over $100,000 in cash. The money was paid to the realty
business for rent and Peral did not deposit the funds in the business account, investigators said.
She also wrote, forged and uttered numerous business checks made payable to herself and other family members totaling over $28,000, investigators said. They said Peral used several business credit cards and even used the victim's late husband's identity to fraudulently open a credit card and ran up over $1,000 in charges.
During much of the time frame in which Peral was employed, the victim lost two close family members, and during the time the victim was preoccupied with family issues, Peral took advantage with the fraudulent practices, investigators said.
Peral also forged the victim's signature on a power of attorney document over the victim, investigators said. They said the total loss for the victim is over $141,000.
Peral refused to cooperate with the investigation, and the detective obtained an arrest warrant based on the evidence gathered, investigators said.