Suspect arrested in sophisticated check cashing scheme
A female subject participating in a sophisticated check cashing scheme was taken into custody in Purdy on Dec. 16, thanks to quick work by Purdy police and store personnel.
Diane Johnson, 41, last known address of Marionville, was taken into custody for alleged forgery. Johnson posted $4,500 bond on Dec. 18 and was released from the Barry County jail.
According to Purdy Police Chief Jackie Lowe, Johnson passed a check from Benchmark Healthcare at the Ramey Supermarket in Cassville. Personnel at Pyramid Foods, the corporate office for Ramey, determined the check was fraudulent.
The store provided a photograph of the subject and alerted other Ramey supermarkets. Purdy Police Chief Jackie Lowe reported the subject called the Ramey store in Purdy and asked if the store would cash a check for her.
By the time the subject arrived, Lowe was watching the store monitor and Officer Russ Nichols was in plain clothes in the shopping aisles.
"She was in possession of the check, a exact duplicate of the one cashed in Cassville, even the check number," Lowe said. "It was a pretty authentic looking check. We called Community National Bank in Monett and they verified the routing number was out of Milwaukee, Wis."
Lowe said the subject, identified as Johnson, became uncooperative when she realized she was about to be arrested. Johnson said the check was a payroll check she earned. She was taken to the county jail for booking.
According to Monett Police Lieutenant Greg Brandsma, a resurgence in check cashing scams has taken place lately, possibly because of the holiday season.
"We've had several reports of more people trying to send a money order or a check to a local person, asking them to cash the check for $1,200 or $2,400 to buy something on Craigslist or eBay, and send the balance to the sender.
"Hopefully people will recognize when receiving a check and being asked to cash it that the first thing to do is check with the bank and see if it is legitimate before trying to cash it and finding the check is fraudulent," Brandsma said. "We've had some losses because of that locally. Often the senders are out of state or out of the country. To work those cases are nearly impossible."
Brandsma urged residents with questions about suspicious activities to call their local law enforcement agency.