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Investigation of check-cashing scheme continues

Thomson police, along with state and federal law enforcement agencies, are continuing their investigation into a multistate bank scam that has netted thieves thousands of dollars.

Several days ago, three suspects were apprehended at two banks in Thomson.

"We're still working on this case, and it's likely we will be for a long time," says Lt. Scott Whittle of the Thomson Police Department. "These types of cases are ring-organized, we believe."

Banks in several Southeastern states have been the target of criminals using homeless people. They are offered money and meals to go with those plotting to rip off banks. A homeless person is given a phony payroll check and told to go inside a bank and get it cashed.

The suspects recently taken into custody in Thomson were all from the Atlanta area: Titus Alexander Gideon, 52, Raymond Lewis Pickens and Shannon Simmons. Charges of forgery in the first degree have been filed against all three. They remained jailed in the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center.

Mr. Gideon was the first of the suspects arrested.

According to police, he managed to cash a phony payroll check for more than $1,500 at Citizens Bank on Main Street in Thomson recently before trying to do the same thing at First Bank of Georgia, located on East Hill Street. A bank employee realized the check was phony and immediately called police, Lt. Whittle said. Mr. Gideon was arrested minutes later.

Police since have tied him to a ring which hit a bank in Douglasville, Ga. Four other people have been arrested and charged in that plot.

A third bank, Queensborough National Bank & Trust on Warrenton Highway in Thomson, also was the target of one of these scams.

Mr. Pickens and Mr. Simmons have been charged in connection with crimes there, Lt. Whittle said.

Web posted on Thursday, April 29, 2010

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