Check-cashing fraud ring believed broken up in city|[4/19/05]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A check-cashing fraud operation in Vicksburg and Jackson is believed to have passed dozens of bad checks in this area and more nationally, Vicksburg police said this morning.

The scheme began to unravel Friday with Vicksburg police arresting three men after a clerk recognized a name on a check, Capt. Mark Culbertson said.

Police arrested Elidio Torez, 25, 96 B Tribune St. in Concord, N.C.; Enriquivelez Feliciano, 31, 98 Georgia St. in Concord, N.C.; and Jose Gallegos-Mesa, no age or address available. The clerk at Fast Tax recognized the name on the check because a similar one had been accepted there in November, Culbertson said.

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Police believe the group has cashed several checks from the fake business U.S. Painting with the address 199-C Raymond Road, Jackson, MS 39212 in Vicksburg and Jackson. Vicksburg police have already recovered three checks while Warren County Sheriff’s deputies have recovered nine, Culbertson said. Authorities have also recovered many checks in Jackson.

The Friday afternoon arrest led Brandon and Vicksburg police to obtain a search warrant to raid a room at the Microtel Inn & Suites, 1130 Oak St. in Brandon. There police found computers, printers, 96 checks with U.S. Painting written on them and $5,000 in cash. Police also seized three cars at the hotel.

“They were actually manufacturing the checks in the hotel room,” Culbertson said.

In the raid, police also found maps with cities highlighted, which led them to believe that the group has been traveling around the country, cashing fraudulent checks, Culbertson said.

The four people arrested in Brandon were: