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Wisconsin police detain 10 in suspected check fraud ring

In Wisconsin, unauthorized use of a person's identifying information or documents is a Class H felony. Identity theft is the act of stealing another's property for personal gain. A conviction for this white collar crime can have serious consequences for defendants.

Ten people were detained recently in a Wisconsin village after police became suspicious of a group of men in a minivan pulling out of a parking spot near a bank. Elm Grove police said they were concerned the occupants behind the tinted windows of the out-of-state vehicle might be part of a check fraud gang.

The officers' concerns increased when the van moved to another parking spot, also close to the bank, and none of the men exited the vehicle. Police pursued and stopped the van after the driver suddenly took off at high speed. Authorities made four arrests after finding marijuana and mail allegedly stolen from Sturtevant businesses in the van.

As the men were being booked on charges of identity theft and receiving stolen property, bank officials reported someone tried to cash a check that seemed suspicious. The name of the Sturtevant business on the check matched a company document in the van's mailbag. Police later obtained a video showing the minivan's occupants raiding mailboxes in Sturtevant.

Officers talked to a man being detained at the bank, who claimed he was offered $200 by men in a Ford Explorer to cash a few checks "for a relative." Police later arrested five people who showed up in a Ford Explorer to bail out the detained defendants. A sack of blank checks and a printer were found in a hotel room.

Criminal defense attorneys know some check fraud participants are driven by poverty, like check cashing "mules" recruited from the street or shelters. The people least prepared to deal with felony charges can have the greatest need for legal representation.

Source: Journal Sentinel, "Crew claiming to be spring break partiers busted in check fraud scheme," Bruce Vielmetti, May. 04, 2015

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