East Texas banks are scammed out of $20,000.00

Pam Johnson
Pam Johnson

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

TRINITY, TX (KTRE) – Two small, East Texas banks are trying to figure out how they were scammed out of nearly $20,000.

It was police that alerted managers at First National Bank of Trinity that something might be wrong.

VP/CFO Pam Johnson got the alert, after another bank in town had reported something suspicious.

"What we understand is that one of their tellers down the street had noticed a gentleman had come in a couple of times." said Johnson.

Johnson wasn't worried since most Trinity Steel employees are not bank customers.

"Our usual policy is if they don't have a bank account here, we do not cash them." said Johnson.

Still, she decided to double check the checks cashed that day.

"I noticed one of our tellers had cashed five of the bogus checks." said Johnson.

Sgt. John Raiford with Trinity PD says a total of 32 bad checks were cashed at the two banks -- totaling around $20,000 all within a two-hour period.

"Possibly up to eight Hispanic males, each of these suspects had a counterfeit check. The checks were close to $600 apiece," said Raiford.

The clearest image law enforcement has of any of the suspects is a picture from an ATM's surveillance camera at the First Community Bank. A simple security measure may help authorities track the men. Each had some type of identification and were asked for their thumbprints.

Those prints will be compared to a national database. Johnson says it's impossible to stop all forgeries, but that they could have done more.

"We could have followed procedure a little closer than what we did," said Johnson.

Now both banks are out tens of thousands in cash. In the meantime, First National says they are tightening up their security policies.

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