South Carolina state
police and police departments in five towns upstate are joining forces to
bust a check forgery ring reported to be working the Carolinas. Investigators
say the alleged forgers are altering ComCheks and counter checks and cashing
them throughout the two states and possibly Georgia.
Cooperative efforts of
law enforcement organizations in Seneca, Spartanburg, Anderson, Greenville
and Newberry have narrowed the suspects to six or seven people. "Two
have rap sheets as long as 15 pages," Detective Sgt. Ted Roundy of the
Seneca Police Department said.
Police say the forgers
operate by removing instruction number three on ComCheks and somehow obtaining
an express code. The line states, "Call Comdata and give the customer
service representative your express code, as well as the amount of money you
are to receive." Counter checks also have been cut to resemble payroll
checks and cashed.
"The forgers have
cashed the checks at smaller stores in both South Carolina and North Carolina,"
said Lt. Wesley Boland of the Newberry Sheriff's Department. Boland is in
charge of coordinating the combined effort to track and arrest the forgers.
Boland told Land Line
the majority of ComCheks were illegally stolen from a Columbia 20 Travel Center
by a young black woman who told travel center employees that the truckstop
she worked for down the road had run out of ComCheks and "could she borrow
some?" An employee gave the woman a box of checks. It is unclear as to
how many were in the box, but Boland said he believes the box contained about
1,500 checks. Joe Bosco, fuel desk manager at Columbia 20, said he could not
verify that any ComCheks had been stolen.
"It's not just one
truckstop," Boland explained. "At a Pantry Travel Plaza, a truckdriver
said he represented his carrier and they were short of ComCheks and asked
if could he borrow four or five." Employees there also handed them over
without question. Police are currently investigating a trucking company in
South Carolina that may be implicated in the scam, but authorities would not
disclose details. "These people are getting express codes somewhere,"
The Seneca Police Department
has two ComCheks and two counterfeit checks in their office, Boland reported.
Dollar amounts vary from $300 to $500. Newberry police also have two checks.
The forgery ring, comprised
of at least five men and two women, one white and one black, has expanded
its operation across the Carolinas and may have crossed into Georgia by now,
Boland told Land Line. Warrants have been issued for the arrest of two of
the suspects. "They may have left the state," he said. "We
are now working closely with Comdata and other police departments, SLED (South
Carolina Law Enforcement Department) and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
This is a tough one, these characters that are using multiple aliases are
hard to pin down."