Stores cash thousands in fake checks
10/18/2007 11:42:06 PM
Two different grocery stores were hit hard Wednesday when they unknowingly cashed dozens of bogus checks.
Joe Johnson, owner of Rivermarket Red and White Grocery Store, says around 4:00pm on Wednesday, a large group of people came into his store looking to cash checks.
Johnson cashes checks a lot, but this time he says something was different. He says he didn't recognize any of the people.
"After a small period of time, I decided to call the company and see if these checks were legitimate or not, and I found out they were not."
And he says when the group noticed him getting suspicious, so did they.
"During the time I was doing the calling, they all left. But by that time we had already cashed 16 checks," he said.
Those checks totaled close to $7,000.
Now, fast forward about 45 minutes to the Piggly Wiggly in Johnsonville. That's when police say the same group hit that store.
"There was a large amount of them. There was probably 30 or 35 of them, and some people got real suspicious of that many people," said Ray Johnson, co-owner of the Piggly Wiggly.
That's when someone called the police. When they arrived, they arrested 11 people, but as many as a dozen more got away.
Police recovered about half of the cash that was stolen and also found additional fraudulent checks.
Police say all of the people involved were Hispanic and believe many of them are in the country illegally. They've turned over that part of the investigation to federal immigration officials.
The 11 who were arrested are being held at the Florence County Detention Center and are awaiting bond hearings scheduled for Friday morning.
Check cashing scam investigation continues
10/19/2007 1:35:23 PM
Federal authorities are investigating to see if 11 people accused in connection with a check cashing scam are connected to any other crimes.
Police said this week the group scammed two stores in Florence and Marion counties out of $16,000. Police said all of the people involved are Hispanic, and they believe many of them are in the country illegally.
At their bond hearings Friday morning, the suspects told court officials they didn't have social security numbers or addresses in the Pee Dee. The judge set bond at $10,000 for each of the suspects, but it will be very hard for them to get a bondsman to get them out of jail because they have no ties to the area.
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