Local police hunt down check-cashing thieves
A fraudulent check-cashing scheme at local credit unions has Brattleboro, Vt., police seeking arrest warrants for Joshua Thibodeau, 24, and Richard Berry, 39. The pair cashed more than $20,000 worth of fraudulent checks at various locations in the two states, including credit unions in Hanover and Lebanon, between August and September 2004.
Brattleboro police expect to charge Thibodeau and Berry with 11 counts of false pretense, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Working as a team, Thibodeau and Berry would write fraudulent checks to open accounts at the credit union, and then return over the next few days to cash fake checks and withdraw funds from the account, said Brattleboro police detective Michael Gorman.
The pair was able to do this because of the lag time it takes for banks and credit unions to clear checks, said Gorman. The account would remain open for several days before authorities were alerted to the fraud.
Scams of this nature are becoming increasingly common with today's computer technology. Between $12 billion and $16 billion in fraudulent checks are cashed at credit unions each year, according to an FBI statistic.
New Hampshire police are currently holding Thibodeau for an unrelated crime. Berry's whereabouts are unknown, but police suspect he is residing in southern New Hampshire.
The incident marks yet another case of fraud in Hanover in recent months. In May, Krysten Victoria Gibbs, then a Dartmouth freshman, pleaded guilty to stealing her friend's Capital One Visa credit card to purchase merchandise at the downtown fashion boutique Bella. Though Gibbs was only charged with one count of credit card fraud, she actually bought much more than the $111 listed on the complaint. The credit card statement of Christina Macaraeg '07 showed that Gibbs fraudulently purchased $559 in merchandise from Bella and food deliveries from Everything But Anchovies using Macaraeg's Visa card. Among the fraudulently purchased items were a Juicy Couture pink skirt, a Juicy pink sweatshirt, a Juno blue/white halter top, a pair of Paper, Denim and Cloth jeans and an Ocean Drive "Championship Players" spandex T-shirt.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.