Tennessee Highway Patrol, Shelby County Sheriff's Office Make Dozens of Arrests Following Identity Crimes Investigation
MEMPHIS --- The Tennessee Highway Patrol and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office conducted a joint operation on Tuesday across Shelby County to arrest dozens of suspects charged with felony identity theft and forgery charges. State troopers and sheriff’s deputies executed arrest warrants on individuals allegedly involved in a fraudulent check cashing conspiracy utilizing a State of Tennessee account number. In all, 99 suspects have been charged in this case.
Troopers and deputies began serving the warrants at 6 a.m., transporting many of the suspects to a mobile command unit located at Shelby County Jail East. A list of the suspects in custody will be released separately.
Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons and Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham made the arrest announcement at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. They were joined by Shelby County District Attorney General Weirich, whose office is prosecuting the cases.
The investigation into the alleged check cashing scheme started last December after the Tennessee Department of Treasury alerted the Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s Identity Crimes Unit about fraudulent checks using a state account number. The checks were cashed at various Wal-Mart stores in the Memphis area and linked to a State of Tennessee account. However, the state did not lose any funds because the Federal Reserve stopped payment on the checks cashed.
Investigators in the Identity Crimes Unit worked with Wal-Mart security personnel and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office over the last several months as they investigated the case.
Each suspect allegedly cashed a check for approximately $300 and is specifically charged with forgery and identity theft (both Class E felonies). The total amount of checks cashed is $41,208. The investigation is ongoing and more suspects could be identified.
“This was a very time consuming and labor intensive investigation. When you have 99 co-conspirators allegedly involved in a crime of this type, it takes a great deal of expertise and resources. We created the Identity Crimes Unit exactly for investigating these types of crimes across Tennessee,” Commissioner Gibbons said.
“The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is proud to partner with the state and to help round up the wanted suspects. We will do anything we can do to aid in the apprehension of these individuals,” Sheriff Oldham said.
“This was a widespread criminal effort to cheat Tennessee taxpayers and retailers,” General Weirich said. “Thanks to the good work by state investigators and local law enforcement, these 99 defendants have been put out of commission and now will be brought to justice in court.”
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to serve, secure, and protect the people of Tennessee.