Lasell U. Student Faces $500K Jewelry Theft Charges, New Details Revealed in Court

Ariel Foster, 19, of Boston, is charged with stealing money from the Lovisa jewelry store at the Burlington Mall

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A student and track star at Lasell University in Newton, Massachusetts, appeared in court on Friday after being arrested for allegedly stealing over $500,000 from the jewelry store where she worked and using at least some of those funds to buy a Tesla, purchase thousands of dollars of Louis Vuitton merchandise and pay for a trip to Hawaii.

Ariel Foster, 19, of Boston was released on $1,000 bail after her arraignment Friday in Woburn District Court. The judge ordered her not to have contact with her former co-workers at Lovisa, a jewelry store at the Burlington Mall, or the mall itself.

An attorney for Foster, who was charged with larceny over $1,200, said she has no record and will get an investigator.

But according to court documents revealed Friday, Foster allegedly admitted committing the fraud, even offering an apology.

Burlington police detectives said they were called to the store on Feb. 22 for a report of a credit card machine breach. That was the morning after Foster was spotted inside after closing by a night shift employee who'd forgotten to sign out of the register, according to a Burlington police report. That was about three weeks after Foster's last day.

A review of the store's records found that the suspect transactions were made two minutes after the night shift employee had punched out, investigators said.

It wasn't the first time that employee saw Foster at the store after hours, having forgotten to sign out. It happened again on Feb. 2, Foster's last day, detectives learned. She was at the store after closing, standing near a register and holding a key chain, the employee told police, according to their report, and she allegedly told the employee she was returning her key, which made sense; the employee noted Foster was still there when she left.

Surveillance footage from inside the store appeared to have been tampered with, Lovisa's IT team told investigators.

The allegedly fraudulent transactions, which took place over three days in February, followed a pattern: an item would be scanned, have its price raised and then be refunded to a credit card, investigators said. Detectives found that tens of thousands of dollars were transferred on several occasions from Lovisa, via a debit card, to Foster's bank account, according to the police report.

Foster was arrested on the campus of Lasell University on Wednesday, according to the police report. Confronted by investigators, she denied being at the jewelry store when the thefts took place ,but when the officers said they'd seen her bank statements, she allegedly confessed.

Foster "began to disclose that she took the money to make her mother feel less stressed and to make her family and friends happy," the police report said. "She also stated that she felt unappreciated. Ariel stated that she will take the blame and said, 'I'm sorry for what I did.'"

The investigation determined that the eight transactions on three dates in February involved a total loss of $547,187.

Ariel Foster, 19, of Boston, is charged with stealing money from the Lovisa jewelry store at the Burlington Mall.

Investigators' subpoena of Foster's financial institutions also uncovered several high-priced transactions between Feb. 2 and Feb. 22, including an expenditure of more than $35,000 for a Tesla, almost $6,000 to Delta Airlines, over $20,000 to a 5-star hotel in Maui, Hawaii, and almost $5,000 in Louis Vuitton purchases.

"My personal opinion is greed took over. When I first saw the amount, I was surprised. I thought it was a mistake," Burlington police chief Thomas Browne said. "She would have an item in the store that she would mark up over-priced and then she would return the difference onto a credit card that she owned in her name."

"At this time there is no indication or belief that she did not act alone," the chief added, noting that more charges are possible as the investigation is ongoing.

Burlington police, Boston police and Lasell University police executed search warrants at Foster's residence and her dormitory at the university in Newton on Wednesday. She was taken into custody without incident.

On Lasell's campus Thursday afternoon, fellow students, including one who saw police outside Foster's dorm, were reacting to the shocking news.

"I was shocked when I found out, like I got a text this morning about it, I couldn't believe it," said Cameron McDonough.

"I was in the building when I saw a bunch of police come into my building and everyone was panicked because they weren't sure what exactly it was," said Celina DeLano.

Lasell University has said it's conducting its own investigation.

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