DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A former Durham County employee is charged with fraudulently accessing funds from retirement accounts to herself.

According to the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were contacted by Durham County administration in March about the alleged scheme. At the time of the incident, 40-year-old Tiffany Diane Blake, of Durham, was working in the Social Services Department of Durham County.

From August 2019 through January 2023, Blake contacted the company contracted to administer employee retirement benefits (Empower) and misrepresented herself as nine different employees on 16 separate occasions, the sheriff’s office said. One of the employee’s accounts was for a dead person. She then transferred more than $18,000 from those accounts to herself, according to the sheriff’s office.

The fraudulent withdrawals were initially flagged by the vendor, who conducted an internal investigation and found that Blake contacted Empower to try to continue the alleged scheme, but the transactions were denied, the sheriff’s office said.

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During the criminal investigation, the sheriff’s office said the detective on the case positively identified Blake as the suspect, tracking the payments to her personal accounts and to additional accounts she opened for the purpose of the fraud.

Blake was taken into custody Friday without incident and she’s charged with the following:

  • ID theft (nine counts),
  • Accessing computers (nine counts),
  • Forgery of instrument (eight counts), and
  • Obtaining property false pretense (six counts).

She was given a $20,000 secured bond which she posted and was later released.