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Union County, IL

Check Scam Busted

Check Scam Busted
By: CJ Cassidy

Union County, IL -Police call it a far-reaching scam that spanned four states.

Now four suspects from Cairo face felony conspiracy charges, and that's just the beginning.

Investigators say their lucky break came when the suspects ran up against a customer service representative at a Southern Illinois Bank.

She says she couldn't wait to put them away after she recognized them; now, we're protecting her identity so she can share her story with us.

"I definitely wanted to catch these individuals it's been such a sore subject for me," the bank employee says.

It's a sore topic because employees at the First National Bank of Jonesboro in Anna, believe they were targeted by the same crooks before.

"They visited here before and the bank has policies to help slow down criminals like this once they're put in place they're pretty well caught," the employee explained.

Union County States Attorney Allen James says the ring consists of four people, Monica Nicholson, Terry Leonard and Steven and Eric Lockett.

The four suspects are believed to be cousins, and part of a larger ring that includes even more cousins.

"They have been taking checks either stolen or manufactured or otherwise and apparently opening an account in a bank, then immediately closing that account once they've obtained checks for that account then they write checks on that account," James says.

Investigators say the checks could add up to thousands of dollars, and were passed in Southern Illinois, Southeast Missouri, Western Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

But James says the suspects' luck ran out when they encountered that alert bank employee who called police, and better yet, it's all on surveillance tape.

"He had a check, so I asked him to come deposit it with the teller so we could get a little bit of a face shot on him," the employee says, adding she only hopes other employees would have done the same.

Police say their investigation is far from over, and prosecutors say there could be many more charges pending against the four suspects.

Allen James has also called the Illinois Attorney General to see if she might take on the case because of all the states involved.

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