A Lynden woman must serve five years in prison after she confessed to cashing thousands of dollars in forged checks.
Kristina M. Faires, 34, pleaded guilty in five separate court cases Thursday, March 14. One of those cases resulted in seven convictions for forgery, a felony.
A woman from the Ferndale area got a call from Jared jewelry in late August: It appeared she had overlooked a payment of $522.78. But that money had been deducted from her account - about 1 1/2 hours after she put the check in her mailbox, as she later discovered. Security footage from an ATM showed Faires cashing the check. Deputies recognized her. She'd written her father's name on the "pay to the order of" line.
Three weeks later a woman reported she put an $8 check, intended for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, in her mailbox but somehow wound up $80 poorer. She found the check had been cashed at a Safeway. Security cameras showed Faires driving her father's Mitsubishi Diamante to the grocery store. Faires bought about $50 in gas, soda, candy and cigarettes.
In five other forgeries recounted in the same case, Faires scratched out the name of the original endorser, wrote in extra zeroes and turned "$100" to "$400" with a pen stroke.
She altered one woman's $82 Verizon bill; ballooned another woman's $44 gas bill to $430; stole $120 that Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services intended to use for bills; took more than $1,800 from an independent painter; and pocketed $2,000 in tax payments from a family member's construction company.
She walked into banks with her head down, playing with her hair to cover her face from the cameras, according to court records.
On Thursday, Faires also admitted to the following crimes:
She sold some restaurant booths, a french fry cutter, a lamp and a mandolin to a market in Everson in April 2011. They were looted from her father's shop. Right away, he had suspicions about the suspect: His daughter had a drug problem, he told deputies, and had asked many times in the past if they planned to get any money for the stuff in the shop. The market owner returned all of it when she found out what Faires had done.
She tried to cash a $275 check on Sept. 15, 2011, at a Bellingham bank. The photo in her ID showed another woman, so the teller asked her to ink stamp a fingerprint on the check. He told her it might take a moment for the check to verify, but Faires ran out of the bank, leaving the fingerprinted check and the driver's license behind. Police traced the prints to Faires. The license belonged to a woman who was mugged of her wallet in 2009 - and she still had two chipped teeth to show for it in late 2011, when she agreed to talk with prosecutors.
Faires was being arrested on warrants in a TJ Maxx parking lot late on Oct. 31, 2011, when police found she had three blank checks belonging to a Ferndale man. The man had reported them stolen. He said Faires had made at least three checks payable to her name.
She altered a $126 check, stolen from a table at the Ferndale Denny's, so it read $426. The crime was reported in early January. Once again, security footage showed Faires cashing the check.
Judge Deborra Garrett approved the prison term.
Faires has agreed to repay all of the stolen money, even on charges that were dismissed in a plea deal.