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Police: Counterfeit check networks growing

Rochester, N.Y. -- Police announced the arrests of six people allegedly involved in check cashing and counterfeit money rings Friday, but their work is far from finished.

Another arrest was made this week, and police are tracking others, according to the department's Economic Crimes Unit.

Members of three separate rings have been arrested between 2013 and this week as part of an investigation that includes the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, United States Secret Service and the United States Postal Inspector's Office.

Derek Floyd, Christian Robinson, Pamela Barnes, Michael Smith and Anitra Lyman of Rochester were arrested, as was John Weissinger of Greece. Floyd and Robinson pleaded guilty.

Smith's attorney did not wish to comment.

Floyd is the leader of one of the three rings, according to Rochester police.

In an affidavit supporting a federal criminal complaint against Floyd, it states Floyd enlisted another person to recruit others to cash counterfeit checks.

The person recruited by Floyd received $200 to $400 per cashed check, according the affidavit submitted by a United States Postal Service inspector.

In September, Rochester police met with another person who was seen on bank surveillance video trying to cash six fraudulent checks at banks throughout the area, according to court documents.

The check-cashing person told police they had received the checks from Floyd and an associate, according to the postal inspector's statement.

"As we dig into this network, we're finding other networks that sprung off of this network," said Sgt. Charles Zlotkus, member of the Rochester Police Department's Economic Crime Unit. "The biggest problem for police is that the networks tend to make duplicates of each check, have their recruits cash them at the same time -- flooding the system."

By the time the bank realizes the checks are fraudulent, the networks have moved on to new fraudulent checks.

Police said it is important to shred checks, not leave mail in mailboxes for long and never leave a wallet lying around.

"Just keep an eye on your personal belongings and shred what you don't need," Zlotkus added.


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