Durham County employee stole money from co-workers' retirement accounts, Sheriff's Office says

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Saturday, November 4, 2023
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DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A now-former Durham County employee has been arrested and charged with stealing more than $18,000 from employee 401k accounts.

According to the Durham County Sheriff's Office, Durham County administrators told investigators about an employee suspected of fraudulently accessing funds in county retirement accounts.

Deputies said at the time of the incident, Tiffany Diane Blake, 40, of Durham, was an employee in the Social Services Department of Durham County.

Investigators believe Blake contacted Empower, a company contracted to administer employee retirement benefits, and pretended to be nine different employees on 16 separate occasions between August 2019 and January 2023. One account was for a deceased person. Blake then submitted Hardship Withdrawal Requests and transferred more than $18,000 from the accounts to herself.

Deputies said the withdrawals were initially flagged by Empower which conducted an internal investigation. During their investigation, Blake allegedly attempted to continue the scheme but the transactions were denied.

Blake was arrested Friday and charged with nine counts of ID theft, nine counts of accessing computers, eight counts of forgery of instrument, six counts of obtaining property false pretense

She is being held under a $20,000 secured bond.