PELHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The Pelham Police Department is currently investigating a case where a couple in another state were tricked into sending nearly $700,000 to a bank in Pelham.
So far, two women have been charged with taking the money and trying to send it different places around the world.
Peggy Pate, 58, of Pelham and Sandra Blair, 51, of Tuscaloosa were arrested last week and charged with first-degree receiving stolen property, a Class B felony in Alabama. The two recently posted $10,000 bond each and were released from the Shelby County Jail.
Ainsley Allison, community relations coordinator at the Pelham Police Department, said the case started in June when a couple in North Carolina was looking to buy a house in their home state. She said the couple received an email from what they thought was their attorney who was closing the deal, telling them to wire their money to a specific account number.
However, the email was fake.
“It was a spoofed email, basically,” Allison said. “It appeared to come from their closing attorney, but it wasn’t really from their closing attorney.”
Instead of sending money to their attorney, the couple sent the money to an account in Pate’s name at an undisclosed bank in Pelham. Allison said that once the money was wired, Pate and Blair went to the bank and took out $150,000, which they shipped to different locations in Texas.
Allison said the day after the first transaction, Pate and Blair went back to the bank and took out the remaining $550,000, which they tried to wire to a bank in China. This set off an alert and the account was closed.
While the $550,000 that was meant to be sent to China was recovered, police are still attempting to locate the remaining $150,000 that was sent to Texas.
Allison said Pate and Blair were not alone in working alone in the grift.
“She (Pate) was instructed to open the account by someone else and all of that part of the case is still very much an active investigation,” she said. “They were not working alone, basically.”
The Pelham Police Department has been working on the case for months in conjunction with an undisclosed police department in North Carolina.