Arrest made in check forgery scam

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Two more suspects have been arrested in connection with a fraudulent check cashing scam that has taken place in recent weeks in several Southwest Georgia cities.

Investigator Greg Long with the Donalsonville Police Department said two women, 30-year-old Peggy Michelle Newsome and 23-year-old Natasha Lynn Gibbs, both of Lakeland, Ga., were arrested by officers with the Lanier County Sheriff Office and Lakeland Police Department on warrants issued out of Donalsonville.

On March 16, the two suspects were transported to Seminole County where they were charged with forgery in the first degree for their alleged participation in an attempt to cash fraudulent checks at Mr. Ed’s Package Store in Donalsonville on March 4. Long said Newsome and Gibbs were identified using video surveillance footage. Both later admitted to attempting to cash the check for $565, according to Long.

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The fraudulent checks being used were stolen in early February from Southeast Forestry Industries Inc. in Blakely, a town in Early County.

Another suspected participant in the stolen check cashing scam, Sylvester Anderson, 61, of Albany, Ga., was arrested by Bainbridge Public Safety on March 7.

An employee at Junior Mall Grocery, located at 417 N. Scott St. in Bainbridge, called police after Anderson came into the store attempting to cash a check that resembled a fraudulent check cashed at the store in recent weeks, according to Sheriff Wiley Griffin.

Investigator Art Davis, who is handling the case for Decatur County Sheriff’s Office, said Anderson and the two female suspects who are in Seminole County custody have provided very little information as to how they came into possession of the stolen checks. The suspects have told police they were offered money to cash the checks by another individual—a black male in his mid-40s who can be seen on security footage from the stores and businesses he has visited, according to Davis and Long.

Video surveillance footage from both stores where the suspects attempted to cash the fraudulent checks have shown a white Ford F-150, three-door extended cab pickup truck that has yet to be located.

In addition to the Decatur County and Donalsonville, the checks stolen from Southeast Forestry Industries have been cashed in Valdosta, Ga., Griffin, Ga., and Blakely, Ga., according to the investigators.

Long said he believes the parties involved with the forgery ring are familiar with the South Georgia region. He said he anticipates the arrest of as many as four more suspects involved with the crimes.

If you have any information regarding the stolen check cashing or believe you have received one of the fraudulent checks, please contact the Investigator Davis at the Sheriff’s Office, (229) 248-3044 or Investigator Long of the Donalsonville Police Department at 229-524-2175.