WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office is trying to figure out who’s replicating checks from its commissary account.
Investigators currently know that 12 counterfeit checks from the Inmates Fund have been cashed at various locations in Mahoning County, including at Austintown Pawn and Citizens Bank in Boardman. They say in the last three weeks, the counterfeiters have gotten away with more than $8,000 but believe there could be other fake checks out there that they aren’t aware of.
Deputies believe the person cashing the checks is part of a larger operation and that there are others involved with manufacturing the checks.
“Unfortunately, what happens is we usually get the person that cashes the checks. Now we want to get to find out who’s behind the operation. That’s the hard part,” said Trumbull County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Thomas Stewart.
Stewart said investigators have a few suspects in mind, but are hoping to get surveillance videos from the places where the checks have been cashed to identify the players involved.
Although the Sheriff’s Office won’t lose any money from this scam, Stewart says there is a way for the businesses that cash the checks to protect themselves.
“The only thing I could tell the people taking the checks — just take them in and tell the people you’re gonna call the Sheriff’s office and see if the checks are good. Nine out of 10 times, these people are gonna take off out of the store,” he said.
Investigators say this isn’t the first time it’s happened to them. About two and a half years ago, the suspects then got away with more than $60,000.
The Sheriff’s Office believe it’s a different crew committing the crimes this time, and investigators hope to stop it as quickly as possible.