Counterfeit check ring bilks thousands from Albany stores - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Counterfeit check ring bilks thousands from Albany stores

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April 4, 2008

Albany -- Nainesh Patel holds in his hands nine checks. "They look real. They look like real paychecks and stuff," he says.

Nine checks that may look like the real deal, but turned out to be a real scheme. The company listed on the checks, Creative Graphics, is real. The checks which totaled more than $3,500.00, are not.

He said, "They (police) went there (Creative Graphics), and they find this address and the company name is the same. But they used this company name to make the check."

Patel, who manages the BP station at 1817 North Slappey, cashed the fraudulent checks Sunday and Tuesday for six women who police say are behind the phony check cashing operation. But his business wasn't the only one targeted

"We have a total of 15 checks that has been cashed at three different stores around Albany. The total amount of all the checks is around $6000.00," said Albany Police Detective Catoa Baldwin.

One of the wanted women is 23-year-old Brittany Denise Padilla of East Point, Georgia. Warrants had been issued for her arrest out of Thomaston, Georgia on forgery charges. But investigators say she, along with 5 other black women, are using more than just fake checks to score their cash.

"It appears at this time that there were counterfeit, phony ID's used. None of the information recorded on these alleged ID's appears to be legitimate," said Albany Police Detective Julius Culp.

As for Patel, he says he'll be more cautious before cashing checks from customers.

"From now on, we'll do only from who ever we know. That's it. We're not going to do any more big checks."

Police urge other store owners to be cautious of this costly crime of opportunity.

The checks were also cashed at A & S Foods on Mobile Avenue and the BP Food Mart on Dawson Road.

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