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Jail trust fund cheque used to steal $23,407 from banks, say police

Transport Canada and RCMP investigated an auto dealership in Hay River for alleged welding of highway tanks without proper registration. NNSL file photo

A cheque-cashing scheme that bilked banks of more than $23,000 using forged cheques from the North Slave Correctional Centre's Inmate Trust Fund has led to the arrests of three men and a warrant for another, according to police.

RCMP say a cheque was issued to a person by the inmate trust fund which was subsequently reproduced, altered and deposited 36 times into various bank accounts between December 2019 and February 2020. Charged with fraud and uttering are forged document are: Aaron Nitsiza, 22, of Yellowknife, Tyleen MacKenzie, 19, of Behchoko, Amanda Lamouelle, 29, of Behchoko, and Molson Romie, 31, of Yellowknife.

The latter three individuals have since been released with a court date set for Aug. 25. An arrest warrant for Nitsiza.

A news release issued Tuesday does not say how many of the accused - if any - were inmates or staff at the jail nor who was the original recipient of the cheque.

"The total amount deposited is $23,407.92," states the news release. "The fraud was discovered through partnership between the banks and GNWT auditors."

Extensive investigation 

Police stated in the news release that the RCMP's financial crimes unit received a report on the matter in January 2020 and an extensive investigation was launched.

"Production Orders for four financial institutions to obtain documents were issued," the news release states. "Through the investigation, the NT RCMP Financial Crimes Unit discovered that up to 15 people may have been involved in cashing the forged cheques – some unknowingly."

Const. Landon King of the NWT RCMP Financial Crimes Unit provided a statement, emphasizing that the charges are serious and affect government services and operations and hurt the public.

“Defrauding the government or financial institutions is not a victimless crime," King stated. "Financial losses directly affect the GNWT’s ability to deliver services to citizens of the NT, and defrauding the banks result in higher fees for everyone."

Residents are asked to come forward with any further information on the fraud case or other criminal activity by contacting the Yellowknife RCMP at 669-1111, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, (click on "submit a web tip") or text: “nwtnutips” plus your message to 274637.