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3 in custody in scam with paychecks

Three Atlanta men taken into custody within the last week by Thomson police are believed responsible for scamming area banks out of several thousand dollars in a payroll check cashing scam, authorities say.

Other law enforcement agencies involved in the ongoing investigation of criminal rings operating in the same manner include sheriff's departments in both Columbia and Richmond counties, as well as agents with the U.S. Secret Service.

Thomson Police Department Investigator Lt. Scott Whittle identified the three suspects as: Titus Alexander Gideon, 52, Raymond Lewis Pickens and Shannon Simmons.

Mr. Gideon has been charged with two counts of forgery in the first degree involving recent bank scams at First Bank and First Citizens, both located in Thomson, Lt. Whittle said.

Mr. Gideon is accused of presenting two fictitious payroll checks in the amounts of $1,751.24 and $1,964.17 at those banks, Lt. Whittle explained. Both checks were drawn on the account of a business located in Augusta. A bank teller at First Bank suspected something wrong and notified police, which led to the suspect's arrest.

Mr. Pickens and Mr. Simmons are each charged with one count of forgery in the first degree in connection with similar scams at Queensborough National Bank & Trust in Thomson about 3 p.m. last Thursday, Lt. Whittle said.

Police in Douglasville want to question Mr. Gideon concerning a similar incident that happened at a bank there last week. In that case, police arrested four other suspects, identified as: Michael Ralston, Breyunna Nelson, 21, Tyrone Gene Barron, 18 and Daniel V. Reed, 22, all of Atlanta, according to Douglasville Police Investigator Jay Smith.

Mr. Ralston reportedly was dropped off at a Wachovia Bank in Douglasville by the other three suspects using a rental vehicle. He walked into the bank and tried to cash a phony payroll check for more than $1,500. When he returned to the vehicle, the money he was supposed to have was short, which resulted in his being beaten up.

Police received a call to the man being assaulted, which led to the arrests of all four of those suspects. Charges against them range from forgery to battery.

Web posted on Thursday, April 22, 2010

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