Smithville Police have again made significant progress investigating Identify Theft here within the City.
Chief Thomas J. Stufano says detectives assigned to revisit older cases that were still open usually referred to as \"cold cases\" were able to follow up on new information and identify and charge two persons.
The original case started on September 6th when Smithville Police received complaints of unknown persons using counterfeit checks within the city limits. Throughout the course of the investigation, it was found that fraudulent checks have been mass produced and used throughout the southeast region of the United States with losses exceeding over $2 million dollars.
Detectives from the Smithville Police Department, United States Secret Service, FBI, and Tennessee Criminal Investigation Division of the Department of Safety were able to successfully track the spending patterns of the suspects leading to the identity and arrest of a husband and wife team living in Murfreesboro.
The suspects had been producing the checks on high tech copy machines and established numerous fraudulent aliases and company accounts. In some cases, the checks were also used as payroll checks which were processed for cash.
Arrested were 25 year old Beatrice Lynn McWhorter and 26 year old James Christopher McWhorter of 811 Twin Oaks Drive, Murfreesboro. The two are currently being held at the White County Jail on numerous charges.
Smithville Police have also charged the pair with two counts of passing counterfeit checks in the City of Smithville. Bond for them is $20,000 each.
Due to the complexity of the case and the vast amount of fraud the investigation is still continuing with additional arrests expected.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated case, Chief Stufano says the Smithville Police Department would like to advise the public that there is an international check scam currently being used in our city and residents should be aware of this illegal activity.
Residents may receive a letter from a company in Canada stating that a city resident is the winner in an international sweepstakes. The letter goes on to read that the company has enclosed a check drawn on a U.S. Bank in an amount varying from $3,000 to $4,000. The enclosed check is to be immediately deposited in the winner's bank account. The winner is to then write a personal check out of their account for the $3,500 to cover taxes on the winnings and forward it back to the sweepstakes company. The letter further states the final payment of the winnings, usually in the amount of $80,000 will be immediately sent to the winner when their funds to cover the taxes have reached the company.
Chief Stufano says high pressure tactics in the letter include time parameters the winner must meet in order to collect the winnings. Another tactic in the letter states \"Special Notice\"- \"This award program has come to the public notice and in order to avoid unauthorized organizations or individuals contacting you, please ensure that this winning is kept confidential\".
Stufano says if you have received one of these letters do not deposit the fraudulent check in your account and be sure to contact police.
Chief Stufano says the Smithville Police Department is strongly committed to actively investigating cases of Identify Theft and Fraud used against our citizens. If you believe you may have been the victim or would like more information on these types of crimes, you are encourgaed to contact the Smithville Police Department.