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Atlanta gang using Utah homeless to commit identity fraud, police say

Published March 20, 2013 8:13 pm

Crime • Provo cops team up with feds to track down culprits.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Police in Utah County have teamed up with the feds to hunt an Atlanta street gang suspected of using local homeless people to cash fraudulent checks.

Provo Sgt. Matt Siufanua said Wednesday that the gang members steal business checks "any way they can," including out of the mail. The gang members then recruit people from homeless shelters to cash those checks.

The suspected organizers of the crime have been working along the Wasatch Front, Siufanua said, and have illegally cashed multiple checks in amounts from $2,500 to $5,000.

According the Siufanua, the homeless recruits are able to cash the checks because the gang members reprint them. The checks consequently look legitimate and include real bank information, Siufanua explained, but are actually fraudulent copies with false addresses obtained by homeless people.

Siufanua said the recruits have used homeless shelter addresses.

The homeless people involved in the scam get to keep roughly "a couple hundred dollars" of the stolen money, Siufanua said. He did not know if any homeless people had been arrested or charged for their role in the crimes.

Representatives from the U.S. Attorney's Office were working with police in Orem and Provo to capture the gang members suspected of operating the scam.

Police were looking for two black men in their early to mid-20s. The men may be from Georgia and could be driving a four-door sedan that may be a rental.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to call police at 801-852-6211.

jdalrymple@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jimmycdii