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Mass. woman to admit to identity fraud in Salem shopping spree

Union Leader Correspondent

August 06. 2013 8:16PM


BRENTWOOD — A 57-year-old woman caught using the identities of five other women intends to plead guilty to charges that she tried to buy thousands of dollars in merchandise with the credit of one of her alleged victims during a shopping spree in Salem, according to court documents.

Deborah Couture of Lawrence, Mass., faces 10 felony charges in connection with her attempts to tap into the credit of a West Virginia woman during shopping trips at T.J. Maxx, Kohl’s, Lowe’s and JCPenney in Salem.

Details of Couture’s plea agreement have not been made public. She faces up to 7½ to 15 years in state prison on the most serious charges, which include multiple counts of identity fraud and theft by deception.

Couture is expected to enter her guilty plea Oct. 9 in Rockingham County Superior Court.

The shopping trips began around Oct. 12, 2012, and ended with her arrest Oct. 23, 2012, by Salem police.

Prosecutors say Couture tried to spend thousands of dollars on the West Virginia victim’s credit card, and had photo identifications aiding her with impersonating four other victims living in Florida, Maryland and Missouri.

Couture purchased $288 in merchandise from a Kohl’s department store on Oct. 12, 2012, after being told the West Virginia woman she was impersonating already had a credit account with the retail chain, according to police.

She checked out with her merchandise and returned a short time later, attempting to purchase another $1,500 in various items, but that transaction was denied by loss prevention workers, police said.

That same day, Couture tried to obtain fraudulent credit accounts at JCPenney and T.J. Maxx, according to indictments. Couture was able to make purchases at the T.J. Maxx store after successfully getting a credit account there, prosecutors said.

Couture went to a Lowe’s store in Salem on Oct. 14, 2012, with another woman and filled two shopping carts full of merchandise that totaled more than $1,000. She was barred from making the purchase after applying for a credit account using the West Virginia ID, police said.

Couture failed to correctly answer a number of security questions posed by a Lowe’s worker during the application process, according to police.

Police ultimately tracked down Couture using store security footage of the vehicle she traveled in during the various shopping trips.

Couture is being held at the Strafford County jail in Dover.

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