Roving gang recruits homeless to defraud

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A street gang is moving from state to state recruiting the homeless to cash fraudulent checks.

According to Sgt. Siufanua of the Provo Police Department this gang came through Utah and recruited transient individuals from homeless shelters throughout the Wasatch Front and Utah County to help them commit fraud.

A homeless man from Provo was recruited for this scam at the Food and Care Coalition police think.

“These suspects recruited him by saying we will give you $200, but he got a little nervous about it so they threatened him that they would assault him if he didn’t do it,” said Siufanua. “They said that they were going to shoot him, but he never saw the weapon. (So) he called us and let us know what was occurring.”

Siufanua explained this street gang steals checks from mailboxes and other places and then takes the routing and account number from the check and creates a fake payroll check in the amount of $1500 to $5000 made out to the homeless man or woman they have recruited. The homeless person will then obtain a state issued ID card with the address of the shelter.

“By the time the banks figure out that the checks were fraudulent it’s too late,” said Siufanua. “There’s no way they’re still in Utah. They are probably in another state by now.”

Siufanua described the suspects as two black male adults, from Atlanta, driving a silver four-door sedan, possibly a rental vehicle.

Despite police suspicion. Brent Crane, the executive director of the Provo Food and Care Coalition, was unaware of any homeless people being recruited from their facility.

“We run a pretty tight ship here and are very proactive and have a lot of good people that come in here and we try to safeguard them from any bad apples that might be out there,” he said. “We have staff present at all times, our clients are never alone and we have 24-hour video surveillance, anything that happens here is recorded.”

Sgt. Siufanua has asked if anyone has information regarding this case, to please contact Provo Police Dispatch at 801-852-6211.

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