EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 25, 2012

Salem police charge two women with theft, ID fraud

SALEM — A Lawrence woman is in the county jail, facing six charges related to identity theft and fraud. Her companion was released following her arrest on a single felony charge.

The two women — Deborah Couture, 57, and her alleged accomplice, 44-year-old Leah Perusse — are accused of using a West Virginia resident’s identification and credit card to make purchases at Kohl’s and Home Depot here.

Police started the investigation last week after the West Virginia woman contacted them about fraudulent activity on her account in Salem, Deputy police Chief Shawn Paten said.

“Somehow they got her account number and she contacted us when Kohl’s contacted her,” Patten said. “We worked with Kohl’s and Home Depot and it was the same person.”

Couture allegedly charged $289 on the account at Kohl’s, then tried to charge another $1,500 there and $1,000 at Home Depot, Patten said.

But employees at both stores became suspicious and the charges weren’t accepted the second time at Kohl’s nor at Home Depot, he said.

Couture is in jail for lack of $25,000 cash bail. She is charged with three felonies — identity fraud, forgery and theft by deception — as well as fraudulent use of a credit card, theft by deception and operating without a valid license.

Perusse was released on $5,000 personal recognizance after being charged with a single felony count of criminal liability for the conduct of another.

“It’s basically an accomplice charge,” Patten said.

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