ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Computers, printers and other equipment used in a multi-county counterfeit check ring are now in the hands of police.
Investigators confiscated the check making tools at a Sylvester house. They also found nearly $40,000 in printed counterfeit payroll checks. They're working with several agencies to put an end to this growing problem.
Investigators don't think this is the only home with a set up quite like this. They think there could be more in Worth County, and even in other counties nearby. That's why police are now working with surrounding counties and the Secret Service to put an end to these bogus checks.
Most of us probably own some of the items spread out on this desk. But Investigators say using these items together to manufacture fake payroll checks can cost you a felony. "It's forgery in the first degree, it's a felony," said Sylvester Police Inv. Calvin Cleveland.
That's what investigators say someone has been doing at a home in Sylvester "We know of one check stock he has gone through, and he was about to open another, so 500 or so," said Cleveland.
The suspect was using big name companies, like Target and Napa Auto parts to throw off merchants who cash these checks. "They are real routing numbers and account numbers but they aren't for these companies."
Investigators confiscated two lap tops, a printer, a shredder, check stock, ink stamps, and thousands of dollars in fake payroll checks yesterday from a home on Jackson Circle. "From the ones we got yesterday that were out of the house that were already printed it brings it to about $35,000 to $40,000."
And according to police, this appears to be an elaborate and widespread operation. "We learned there is a middle man that brings the names to the printer, and then that middle man takes those back to the person printed on the check. That person cashes the check, keeps a certain amount, and the rest of the money is split between the middle man and the printer."
But Investigators discovered more than just fraudulent payroll checks at the house, they also discovered Turbo Tax cards and U.S. Treasury checks. They think the suspect may have been preparing to alter.
"According to the Secret Service these are real checks what they were thinking they were going to do was change some number to make it a bigger number. At this point, there is no telling how many unsuspecting merchants cashed these realistic-looking checks."
If you are a merchant who normally cashes payroll checks, investigators say you don't have to cash a check if you suspect it's fake.
They recommend only cashing during banking hours and calling the company or the bank listed on the check because either one should be able to confirm the account.
No arrests have been made yet, but investigators say warrants are pending.