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Emily Welker, Published April 04 2013

West Fargo woman charged with exploiting vulnerable 18-year-old

FARGO – A West Fargo woman is accused of stealing thousands of dollars, in part on shopping trips to Target, from an 18-year-old woman with the intellectual capacity of a third-grader.

Tamera Annette Porter, 42, made her first court appearance Wednesday in Cass County District Court on a charge of exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a Class C felony.

She posted $300 cash to bail out of the Cass County Jail later in the day.

Charging documents filed March 22 state that the woman’s family contacted police when they noticed some suspicious activity in her bank account after she started dating Porter’s son.

Court records state the 18-year-old gets income from a part-time job and a wrongful death settlement case in the death of her mother some time before.

Investigators looked at the alleged victim’s bank records, which they say showed there were “huge amounts” spent over short time periods, such as ATM withdrawals over a few days totaling $500 or $600.

Police also allege bank records show repeated gift card purchases at Target in amounts of $240, $295, $180, all later cashed out by Tamera Porter.

Other transactions – such as a man’s jacket, shelf liners, pizza pans and expensive locks bought for doors at Home Depot – were unlikely purchases for the alleged victim to have made, police said in court documents.

West Fargo investigators brought Porter to the police station for an interview March 4. When told by police that the alleged victim had gone through $2,000 in the past two or three weeks and that Porter was caught on video at numerous stores using the funds, she said her son’s girlfriend “just volunteers” to give her money, police reports say.

Porter is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on May 1.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541