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Four charged with recruiting homeless to cash forged checks

| Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011

A federal judge on Friday ordered four Georgia residents held without bail on charges that they recruited homeless people to cash forged business checks at area PNC Banks.

Travis Davis, 24; Edmund Heath, 23; Cordarell Pearson, 24, and Brandon Roseberry, 21, all from Atlanta, are charged with conspiracy, possession of counterfeit checks and aggravated identity theft.

PNC contacted the Financial Crimes Task Force on Oct. 1 after discovering that 18 counterfeit business checks totaling nearly $42,000 had been cashed between Sept. 26 and 29, according to an affidavit filed by U.S. Postal Inspector David Anderchak.

The Postal Service has been involved since 2010 in a coordinated investigation along the East Coast called "Operation Homeless," in which groups out of Charlotte and Atlanta travel the coast committing check fraud.

The groups steal business checks from mailboxes in industrial parks and office buildings, and create counterfeit checks in amounts between $1,500 and $3,000, then offer homeless people or prostitutes 10 percent of the proceeds to cash the checks, often buying them clothing to make them look respectable, according to the the affidavit.

An employee at PNC's Royal Oaks branch in Monroeville rejected one of the checks and wrote down the Georgia license plate number as the suspects drove off, authorities said.

The task force tracked them to a Red Roof Inn and adjacent Days Inn in Monroeville, where they found the car spotted by the bank employee, the affidavit says. The task force arrested the four men on Thursday.

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