South Georgia fraud ring busted up - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia fraud ring busted up

December 13, 2004

Thomasville - Thomas County Investigators say they've broken up the ring and locked up the leader. They say the ring of more than 50 people revolved around this man, Antonio Green of Pelham.

Lt. Tim Watkins says, "The ring leader, Mr. Antonio Green was recruiting people to go open up accounts using minimum balance at Bank of America. He would then get their instant access debit cards, along with their pin numbers."

According to investigators Green would then take the debit cards to an ATM where he would deposit as much as $5000, even if there was no money in the envelope, then throughout the weekend, he would withdraw up to $1500 a day from the account before the deposit could be verified.

"He's recruited approximately 54 people and the total loss to Bank of America is going to be close to a quarter of a Million dollars," says Watkins. He says Green kept most of the money and promised each of the accomplices a cut for opening the accounts. Now, they'll all be charged with felony counts of theft by deception, and could serve up to 10 years per count.

Thomas County investigators have already arrested 12 people, with another 8 warrants issued, other agencies are also planning arrests. Lt. Watkins says, "There may be some pending arrests coming in from FDLE down in Tallahassee, Florida. There's also some pending arrests in Albany through the U.S. Secret Service office out of Albany."

Watkins says verifying funds before a withdrawal is allowed would cut down on this type of fraud. Watkins says, "Make sure the money is there and the checks are there, the funds are there before they get access to the money." Money those charged with the crime may be ordered to pay back.

Prosecutors are also gathering evidence against Antonio Green in another case they plan to present to a federal grand jury. The GBI and IRS say he was printing fake W-2s and recruiting people to falsify tax returns. Green is being held on a $500,000 bond in the Thomas County jail on the bank fraud charges.

posted at 5:15 PM by karen.collier@walb.com

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