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Con men use bogus check scheme to steal $20,000 from small businesses in Amherst

A ring of out-of-state con men is preying upon local small business owners with a counterfeit check scheme that relies on indigent men and women to cash bogus checks for thousands of dollars, Amherst police said. Amherst business owners have been victimized for more than $20,000 in about a dozen cases, and more are under investigation, said Amherst Police Detective Lt. Richard S. Walter.

“Outgoing business checks stolen from mailboxes are being reproduced with valid company names, logos and account numbers,” said Walter. “They then recruit people and use them to cash the forged checks that are payable to these people – usually for around $3,000.

“They’ll go to the City Mission area or the Buffalo Public Library asking [disadvantaged] people if they want to make some money,” said Walter. “Out of the $3,000 check, the people get to keep $200.”

  Amherst Police Detectives have arrested five individuals for cashing the forged checks thus far. Each of them faces charges of forgery and grand larceny.

“They look for individuals with good identification,” explained Walter. “Some used benefit cards. The individuals were taken to area banks, where they cashed the checks, received their $200 and left.”

Amherst detectives have also been in touch with other law enforcement agencies in the area that reported similar crimes.