Seven arrested for counterfeit check cashing ring
POSTED: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 12:29pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 5:27pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Louisiana State Police Detectives along with several other law enforcement agencies are investigating numerous cases of identity theft that have occurred over the course of the past year in several states. In all of the cases, bank accounts belonging to victims were compromised, and their account information was utilized on counterfeit checks. These counterfeit checks were cashed at various retail outlets throughout Louisiana as well as in states such as Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. A common theme among most of the victims involved was determined to be checks written to the Louisiana State University Hospital System. At some time prior to their accounts being compromised, most of the victims stated that they made a payment from their checking account to the LSU Hospital System.
The Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office initiated the investigation after receiving numerous complaints from victims in Washington Parish. WPSO Detectives obtained surveillance video of several suspects who were linked to multiple cases in the Washington Parish area. The surveillance videos from several of the stores where numerous counterfeit checks were negotiated showed four females (identified as Meshaune Wilson, Lisa Haynes, Valencia Paul, and Pamela Reams of Baton Rouge) making purchases using the counterfeit checks.
On November 8, 2012, Louisiana State Police Detectives and Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Detectives arrested Wilson, Haynes, and Paul in Iberville Parish. The three were observed attempting to pass counterfeit checks at Walmart in Plaquemine, LA. They also attempted to make purchases with counterfeit checks at the Walmart in Donaldsonville, LA earlier that day. At the time of the arrests, the three were found with numerous counterfeit checks, stolen bank account numbers and counterfeit Louisiana Identification Cards bearing their photos and fictitious names and addresses.
Through investigative efforts, Detectives learned that Wilson and Paul purchased the counterfeit checks and ID cards from an individual named Tammy Matthews of Baton Rouge. They also learned that Reams is employed in the billing department at the LSU Hospital System and has access to several financial databases.
On November 20, 2012, Louisiana State Police Detectives, Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office Detectives and the United States Secret Service executed search warrants at the residences of Reams and Matthews. Detectives located numerous copies of scanned checks from the LSU Hospital System database and several fictitious Louisiana ID Cards. Detectives also seized computers, numerous handwritten Social Security Numbers, as well as various items used to print checks and ID cards.
Reams admitted to Detectives that the fraudulent documents were obtained from the LSU Hospital System databases, and that all of the account numbers on the documents were used to create counterfeit checks. Reams explained that she was accessing the LSU Hospital System databases to obtain the account information, and in turn would receive payment from Matthews for the production of the counterfeit checks and identification cards.
Those arrested as a result of the investigation regarding the LSU Hospital System billing accounts are Pamela A. Reams, 47; Meshaune Wilson, 34; Lisa M. Haynes, 44; Valencia S. Paul, 37; Tammy R. Matthews, 47; Lisa Anderson, 46; Billy Ray Taylor, Jr., 42.
Lisa Anderson (Reams’ sister) was already in custody on charges of Identity Theft in Washington Parish. Anderson, along with her husband Billie Ray Taylor, were both been identified on surveillance videos using several of the counterfeit checks with stolen account information at numerous stores in East Baton Rouge Parish. Valencia Paul also faces further charges of Conspiracy to commit Identity Theft and Conspiracy to commit Monetary Abuse in East Baton Rouge Parish. At the time of this release she is still at large, and once located by Detectives will be booked accordingly into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.
Detectives have already identified nearly four hundred possible victims in Louisiana as well as in at least twelve other states. They are continuing to examine the documents and evidence seized from all of the individuals involved, and are in the process of identifying further potential victims. Detectives will also be reaching out to local law enforcement agencies throughout Louisiana to determine if these victims have already reported the thefts to other agencies.