With the current real estate market woes, sluggish stock market, and whispers of 'recession' in the wind many of us are looking for a legitimate way to make a little extra money. Now this might sound too good to be true but I came across a young lady with what seems to be a pretty good business opportunity.
Here are some of her 'tools of the trade' needed to run her "home-based business."
I was called to a bank located inside a supermarket because a young lady (I'll call her Lisa) was trying to cash a credit card balance transfer check for over $1,000. She provided a state ID card and two paycheck stubs as identification.
The check looked legitimate but the bank teller was suspicious since these kinds of balance transfer checks are rarely given to others and made out to 'cash'. As an added precaution he asked Lisa to provide her fingerprint on the front of the check. She pressed her finger into teh ink pad and then pressed the very tip (or point) of her finger onto the check. This did not leave the necessary fingerprint so the teller told her to do it again using the pad of her finger. Again, she only used the tip of her finger.
Becoming more suspicious, he called the credit card company to verify the check and was told it was authentic. Next he called the account holder to confirm he'd given this check to the nice young lady. "What check?" the man asked. "I just got this credit card and I never received any balance transfer checks. I certainly did not write any checks to anyone."
The teller turned around to see Lisa had already left the building leaving her ID behind. He returned to his work and then called police about an hour later to file a report. While taking the report, Lisa returned and walked right up to the bank counter. She was quickly detained for questioning.
Lisa looked like a typical college student with fair skin and long brown hair. She sat crying in the break room pleading "What's going on? What's happening to me?"
After reading her Miranda rights, I asked her about the check she was attempting to cash. She prefaced her story by telling me how she had a 5 year old daughter, an ex-husband with HIV who was secretly gay during their marriage, and countless other pleas for pity. She then told me she did not know the person listed on the check. In fact, she filled out the check, signed his name on it, and then endorsed the back. She had a perfectly good reason, though: "This is all part of a home based business." She then explained:
She was put on a mailing list (can't remember how or who put her on this list). Soon she (and presumably many other entrepreneurs) received packages in the mail containing blank checks with instructions to cash the checks in any amount desired in any way possible. For her services she was to keep 25% of the proceeds and mail back the remaining 75%. She could not remember who sent the packages or who she mailed the 75% to. She insisted it was a legitimate business sponsored by the credit card companies to "test out their ability to detect fraud". She said she's already cashed a bunch of these checks over the past few months.
The interview was going well. Even though she claimed to be part of a legitimate operation, she used the word "fraud". I told her she was under arrest for forgery and was going to be booked into jail. I conducted a records check on Lisa and found out a Detective was already working several other forgery cases against her.
Inside her car were duffel bags filled with notebooks, credit card statements, passports, driver licenses, blank check paper, tax records, and other personal documents for dozens of people. Between the front seats was a fully loaded shotgun with an extra box of shells.
One of her notebooks had a hand written entry titled, "Alibi"
It went something like this: "If I'm caught by the police, tell them it's a home-based business where credit card companies send blank checks in the mail with instructions to cash them any way possible."
The entry was a few pages long and outlined the whole story Lisa just finished telling me.
This was the first time I've ever heard of a suspect pre-writing an alibi on paper before committing the crime. I would consider this type of evidence "damning" to say the least.
There were other interesting entries including several "To Do" lists with items such as:
-find an apartment
-pick up groceries
-get a handgun and concealed weapons permit
-eliminate paper trail
-plan my next weekly hustle
-obtain passport photos, clear adhesive glue, red blue and blank ink stamps
-buy custom rims
She also had brochures from several legal and criminal seminars offering topics as, 'How not to get caught', and 'Avoiding prosecution', etc. She even had a paper printed from a court website showing the various classes of felonies and the minimum-maximum prison sentence that applied to each (the class of felony for forgery was highlighted in yellow). She obviously put a lot of consideration into her crimes since she knew the possible prison term. I wonder if she realized each separate incident would be its own charge.
The prison sentence for a non-violent class 4 felony (forgery) is 2.5 years. If convicted of (10) counts, however, you're looking at 25 years. She could also be charged with a class 3 felony (aggravated ID theft) which carries a 3.5 year sentence. With the stacks of evidence in her possession, I'm sure the detectives will have plenty to work with.