Federal Grand Jury Indicts Alleged Check Thieves - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

07/26/06 - East Texas

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Alleged Check Thieves

by Ramonica R. Jones

A federal grand jury in Angelina County has indicted a group of people on several counts of bank fraud and forged security. They're charged with stealing $80,000 from almost a dozen banks in the area.

The suspects took actual checks with correct account and routing numbers for customers who banked at those institutions, then they made counterfeit checks with different amounts and payees for those banks.

Federal prosecutors are now investigating how they got the checks and who made them.

Once word got out East Texas banks were the victim of fraud, investigators and bank employees took action. They quickly notified their customers by phone and mail about the importance of identity theft protection.

Kristi Gay, Lufkin Regions Bank president, said, "We contacted each customer that we were made aware of that might have been involved in the incident, and then we also followed up with a letter giving them specific instructions about what steps they could take if they had further concerns."

Protecting yourself from identity theft is easy and inexpensive. Authorities suggest reviewing your bank account statements as soon as you get them and consider online banking so you can monitor your accounts more often.

You should never give out personal information over the phone. It's also a good idea to shred all incoming mail and other home documents containing personal information.

Betsy Broder of the Federal Trade Commission said, "In the course of one year, 10 million people had become victims of identity theft."

A total of ten banks were defrauded in the check theft scheme. Those banks have already contacted their customers affected by the theft.

Three of the suspects were already in Texas jails on unrelated charges. A fourth suspect surrendered last week. Authorities are still looking for the other two.  

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