Bank employee charged with helping orchestrate counterfeit check scheme

An employee at a Union Township bank branch has been charged with helping orchestrate a counterfeit check scheme aimed at netting nearly six figures in cash, acting Union County Prosecutor Jennifer Davenport announced Monday.

Grace E. McCollin, 24, of Irvington is charged with second-degree identity-theft fraud and second-degree conspiracy to commit theft.

A referral by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice’s Financial and Computer Crimes Bureau (North Unit) and the Union Police Department initiated an investigation into McCollin’s activities, led by Detective Katelyn Prata of the Financial Crimes subdivision of the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Unit. The investigation revealed that McCollin allegedly leveraged her employment at a PNC Bank branch in Union Township to obtain previously deposited checks and other bank-related documentation from about April through October 2018, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Derek Nececkas, who is prosecuting the case.

McCollin then allegedly provided those materials to an unknown number of co-conspirators, who produced a total of $98,000 in counterfeit checks bearing legitimate accountholder payor information, but with altered amounts that were then deposited into controlled accounts, Nececkas said.

The stolen items included account information from clients at 13 area banks in all. PNC Bank has cooperated with the Prosecutor’s Office’s investigation. A first appearance in the case has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, June 28.

Anyone with information about others involved in this or similar schemes is urged to contact Detective Prata at 908-527-4933.

Convictions on second-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by 5 to 10 years in state prison.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.