Theives stealing IDs, checks to commit bank fraud in Northeast Louisiana
MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Authorities say a criminal enterprise that originated in Florida and spread throughout the nation has made its way to northeast Louisiana.
According to the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office, thieves are engaging in a criminal scheme in which they break into vehicles, stealing ID cards and checks, and then impersonate the people on IDs to cash the stolen checks at a bank. The sheriff says such thieves have cashed $20,000 in stolen checks locally.
Sheriff David Hedrick says the suspects broke into cars in Vidalia and Natchez and stole the identities of several people. Authorities say one suspect was caught on camera at Delta Bank in Ferriday making a deposit for nearly $2,000. They say several days later she was caught on camera in New Orleans cashing checks at a Regions Bank. The sheriff says men in the group steal the IDs and checks, while the women disguise themselves to cash the checks.
“This is not a local incident. This is happening in Florida. It’s happening in Georgia, Mississippi, that we know of, it’s really all over the nation. We’re in the process of gathering all the information that we can and we’re going to turn it over to the Secret Service probably tomorrow,” said Sheriff Hedrick.
The FBI says they avoid detection by using drive-through lanes farthest away from teller windows. Nationwide, the scheme has been used by thieves to steal an untold amount of money.
Officials say once caught they’ll be charged with forgery, money laundering, burglary of a vehicle, identity theft, computer, and bank fraud. The suspects could face up to 99 years in prison.
Authorities in Louisiana are no strangers to catching groups of people who engage in this fraudulent scheme. In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice reported the sentencing of eight people to federal prison after they were caught running the scheme in other parts of Louisiana.
The DOJ also noted that the suspects would use social media postings and reports calling the group or scheme out by name “to avoid locations where they perceived banks and law enforcement to be particularly effective at detecting fraud) and to increase the success of their endeavor (e.g., by checking to make sure that their own photographs and identities had not been publicly disseminated).”
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