Cuthbert Police investigate Citizens Finance - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Cuthbert Police investigate Citizens Finance

November 16, 2005

Cuthbert- You may need to check your credit report. Hundreds of south Georgians could have loans in their name that they know nothing about. Cuthbert Police say several people in a loan office forged identities and signatures to take out fraudulent loans.

Police caution anyone who has done business with Citizens Finance regardless of the office. They say you should run a credit report to look for a loan you didn't apply for. Police are investigating the Cuthbert cases, but they worry there may be more.

Five years ago, then Ailene Daniels, used Citizens Finance to secure a tax loan. Recently she found out employees were using her.

"I received a phone call from a worker that once worked up there and she told me I had a loan in my name up there," said Ailene Graham, Victim.

Ailene knew she paid off her loan. She called the office and was told by several employees there was no loan in her name. Suspicious, Ailene kept pushing.

"I began to call people that were above them and just so happened when I did that the people that were above them were actually in the office in Cuthbert. They pulled up all the information and bam, there was the loan in my name," said Graham.

Copies of the loans show signatures at the bottom, signed in 2004 Ailene Daniels. Daniels was married in 2001 and is now Ailene Graham. Current managers at Citizens Finance approached police and turned in the fraudulent records.

"They would take the identity from former applicants and use those names to obtain fictitious loans," said Chief Joe Roque, Cuthbert Police Department.

When payments weren't made on the fake loans, employees would simply reopen the loans, extending the pay back time.

"It's more than just one that's involved. Looks like it may have been the whole staff at one time," said Roque.

The suspects no longer work in Cuthbert, but police think they pulled the scam all over southwest Georgia.

"Its even gone into Alabama, and Atlanta area, and all around the southeast," said Roque.

What Ailene finds most disturbing is that they were people she knew and trusted.

"These people that signed off on these loans, they know me personally, so it was upsetting and disappointing," said Graham.

Because the case is still under investigation, police would not release names, but did tell us one suspect is charged with similar crimes in Alabama and is out on bond. The GBI will meet with Cuthbert Police in the next several days to decide who will handle the case.

When the investigation is finished, suspects likely will face charges that include theft, identity theft, and fraud.

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