Salt Lake police detectives are looking for a man who has bilked more than $60,000 from "every major bank in the valley."
The man has cashed large counterfeit checks that appear to be drawn from the Massachusetts Bank of New England in the name of Aetna, a large insurance company. The bank has sent back 24 fraudulent checks totaling $92,000 that the man has cashed or attempted to cash at Salt Lake area banks.Investigators believe he's stolen $60,000 of that amount but aren't sure how much of the remaining $32,000 he has acquired.
"He's quite a little mastermind," said Salt Lake Police Detective George Clegg.
The detective said the man has opened checking and savings accounts with $50 deposits. In many cases, the man returned to the bank after a few days to deposit a forged check. Most were written for approximately $5,000, and he would tell the clerks the checks were reimbursements for injury claims.
At one bank, he even pulled the check out of an envelope addressed to him with the return address of the insurance company printed in the corner, Clegg said. "He went to a lot of trouble."
The man would often go to another branch of the bank immediately after depositing his checks. Tellers would look up his account on the computer, notice the deposit and allow him to withdraw large amounts of cash despite the fact that the checks had not cleared.
Clegg said the banks should hold checks for five days or until they clear before allowing people to draw from them. "Especially with a brand new account. That really raises some eyebrows or should have," he said.
Most of the counterfeit checks were written within a one-week period in February. Although the checks were elaborately produced, the man was able to cash them using poorly homemade identification cards using the names Troy A. Hoy, Drew Aht, Stephen D. Lee, Joel A. Reed, Josh G. Gray and Ben J. Davis.
Police were alerted about the man after he attempted to use a bogus identification card to cash two checks at a downtown Check Mart. "When the clerk went into the back room (to verify the checks), he took off," Clegg said.
Officers have confiscated the ID card he left at the check-cashing business and are asking for the public's help in identifying him. He is described as 5-foot-9, very slender with a pot belly and bad teeth. He has brown hair combed back in the photograph but usually combs his hair forward.
Anyone who may have seen the man or know of his whereabouts is encouraged to call Salt Lake police detectives at 799-3764.