Police Say Crime Ring Used Bank Trash in Check Forgery Scheme
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A forgery ring netted more than $100,000 by rummaging through bank trash bins and counterfeiting thrown-out documents, police said, warning financial institutions to find new disposal methods.
The ring’s members pieced together shredded records found in trash bins behind about 100 banks across the state, police said.
The records enabled ring members to get enough information about customers to forge checks against their accounts and make bogus driver’s licenses, police detective Larry Kamin said.
″Banks will have to find other methods of disposing their account information,″ said Kamin, who works in the San Fernando Valley Bureau’s forgery detail. ″It appears the type of shredder they’re using is not sophisticated enough.″
He suggested banks burn or water down their trash unless they start more effective shredders.
Bank losses have exceeded $100,000 since the ring began operations, police said. The banks, not their customers, are taking the losses. Police believe the ring began operating last October.
A Los Angeles man and his girlfriend have been charged with forgery and receiving stolen property in the scheme, and police are seeking a dozen others, Kamin said.
Raymond Sugarman, 38, and Michelle Bell, 35, were arrested during a July 30 raid and have pleaded innocent. A third person was arrested in connection with the operation, but Kamin refused to identify the individual.
Sugarman’s bail was set at $75,000, while Ms. Bell is being held without bail in connection with a suspected parole violation from a forgery conviction, authorities said.
The ring allegedly operated from Sugarman’s rented home, where detectives said they found a laboratory for forging documents at the home.
Sugarman drove up while police were searching the home, Kamin said, and investigators say his car contained trash bags filled with shredded paper taken from trash bins.