In late May of 2014 the Financial Crimes Unit received numerous tips in reference to a social media site advertising blank checks for sale. A posting was found on Craigslist offering the sale of blank checks for $100.00 per check along with instructions of where the checks could be passed without the need for identification. The post also boasted that thousands of dollars in checks had already cleared.
The WFPD Financial Crimes Unit launched an investigation. Detective Tony Ramirez was the lead investigator on the case and worked diligently to identify numerous suspects who participated in the alleged check cashing scheme. Detective Ramirez uncovered an organized method of a criminal scheme involving the direct recruitment of individuals to knowingly and unlawfully participate in passing stolen/forged checks. The investigation led to an organized criminal case involving no less than eleven known suspects named in At-Large warrants for the offense of PC 71.02-Enganging in Organized Criminal Activity (Forgery). The charges are related to seven active open WFPD cases and has led to other developing cases both outside of Wichita Falls and out of state. It should also be noted that the identification of four other suspects is also pending.
The saturation of the stolen forged checks in the area led to an increase of calls for service and victims with the monetary loss of thousands of dollars. The WFPD Financial Crimes Unit would like to thank the watchdog citizens of our community who discovered the Craigslist post and brought it to the attention of our agency. Without citizen assistance this investigation may have never come to fruition.