Former employee arrested for credit card fraud at Providence Water

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A former purchasing supervisor at the Providence Water Supply Board has been arrested for allegedly using an agency credit card for personal use.

Rebecca Lourenco, 47, is accused of stealing more than $13,000 from the agency, according to a Providence Police report. She’s charged with wrongful conversion by a government employee, credit card fraud, access to a computer for fraudulent purposes and giving a false document to a public official.

Providence Police opened an investigation into possible credit card fraud by Lourenco in September after an audit by the agency revealed “suspicious activity” on a corporate credit card. Lourenco resigned in August. She had worked at Providence Water since 1997.

A court affidavit says Providence Water officials found 101 allegedly fraudulent transactions totaling $13,806.12. In one example, the affidavit says Lourenco submitted a purchase order for three mail carts from Amazon when she had actually bought makeup, powders, creams, a zip fleece hoodie, a mannequin head and a jacket.

The documents say she also purchased household goods and toys on the Providence Water credit card such as paper towels, Nerf darts, a leather ottoman and a gazebo canopy.

Police seized Lourenco’s work computer and found Microsoft Word documents containing alleged fraudulent receipts, where the listed item purchased had been changed.

The affidavit also says Lourenco herself approached a supervisor to report she had made one personal purchase on the credit card for $155 in August 2018. The supervisor, believing it was an honest mistake, asked her to pay the money back. The documents say Lourenco made the payment, but officials opened an audit and discovered the rest of the allegedly fraudulent transactions.

Providence Water, which supplies water to multiple cities and towns in Rhode Island, is funded by ratepayers.

“After internal auditing procedures detected suspicious activity on a Providence Water credit card used by purchasing supervisor Rebecca Lourenco, she was immediately confronted with the information and resigned,” said Chris Hunter, a spokesperson for Providence Water. “We appreciate the hard work of our finance team in detecting this suspicious activity and the Providence Police Department for conducting a thorough investigation.”

A police report says Lourenco turned herself in on Thursday after an arrest warrant was issued. She was arraigned at Providence District Court and released on her own recognizance.

Lourenco’s attorney, Bill Dimitri, declined to comment on the charges.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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