ORMOND BEACH, FL – Three people, including a Daytona Beach woman, have been arrested in connection to the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars wired from a local title company to accounts across the country and the world, resulting in the first-ever cryptocurrency seizure by the Volusia Sheriff’s Office.
Bernadette Poorman, 61, is charged with grand theft of over $100,000 after her employer, Express Title Services in Ormond Beach, reported that Poorman allowed close to $600,000 to be fraudulently wired from the company’s operating escrow account, and wired another $350,000 to her own bank account.
Also charged in the case are 33-year-old Adrienne Hyche of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and 60-year-old Richard Pira of San Francisco. Pira was extradited to Volusia County this week and remains in custody with a bond of $10 million.
Believed to be one of the leaders of an organized fraud ring, it’s estimated Pira received $365,000 of the stolen funds.
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The case was reported to the Sheriff’s Office in March, when Express Title discovered Poorman gave an unknown person access to the company computer, allowing funds to be wired to various accounts across the country. Poorman was authorized to approve the wires and confirmed them when contacted by the bank.
A security alert was triggered by the bank, though, when Poorman initiated a wire for $350,000 to her personal account.
The title company conducted an accounting of their operating escrow account and discovered between March 8 and March 10, Poorman approved $572,899 to be wired to fraudulent accounts, in addition to the $350,000 she sent herself.
Over a four-month investigation, Volusia sheriff’s detectives obtained seven search warrants to be executed at various financial institutions, seizing $126,421 from those accounts. In addition, about 11 Bitcoin with a value of $260,000 at the time was seized from an individual in India.
Hyche, who was arrested in Tuscaloosa on a warrant charging her with grand theft over $20,000, was extradited to Volusia County in May and has already pleaded guilty in the case. She was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $30,000 restitution.
Poorman was arrested in Daytona Beach in April and later released on $25,000 bond while her case is pending. An arrest warrant has been issued for a fourth suspect in the case. His name is not being released at this time as the investigation is ongoing.