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2 CHARGED IN SCAM THAT USED BANK TRASH

Two Buffalo men have been charged with using discarded banking paperwork for a fraud scheme that netted them more than $25,000 in just months, Erie County Sheriff Patrick Gallivan announced Friday .

Robert Green, 42, also known as Marvin Alexander, of Krupp Avenue, and Gerald "Kalua" Netherland, 32, of Winslow Avenue, the alleged mastermind, were arrested in the last two weeks on multiple charges.

Bank officials approached authorities a couple of months ago about fraud cases affecting unsuspecting bank customers, according to Detectives Mike Pliszka and Charles Tirone.

Investigators got their big break when several people recognized a bank surveillance photograph of Green that was featured in a Crime Stoppers segment last month, Pliszka said. Then, an undercover deputy joined the operation.

"They accepted him and made him part of the arrangements," Pliszka said, having him cash bogus checks for a share of the proceeds.

The fraud was rooted in the retrieval of discarded bank receipts and other paperwork by "dumpster divers," who were not necessarily the defendants, Pliszka said. The two may have connections in businesses that haul trash for banks, he said.

Using information from discarded receipts, along with "shelved checks" of companies that had gone out of business, the men tapped into accounts, the detective said. A deposit slip would be filled out, using the name and account number of a legitimate customer, then only a portion of the funds from a check that either was stolen or drawn on a closed account would be earmarked for deposit.

On occasions where bank tellers hesitated, the transactions were aborted, Pliszka said.

Green, who is on state parole for a burglary conviction, was arrested Jan. 20 on charges of possession of a forged instrument, attempted grand larceny, criminal impersonation and possession of stolen property. His current status was not available.

Netherland, who's on federal parole for a bank fraud conviction, was picked up this past week outside a Town of Tonawanda bank, where the undercover officer was to handle a transaction, Pliszka said. Netherland was charged with possession of a forged instrument, attempted grand
larceny, second-degree forgery and possession of stolen property. He's in the Erie County Holding Center in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Both ex-cons got out of prison last summer and hooked up just a couple of months ago, the detective said. They were "living the high life," he said.

In searches of Green's and Netherland's homes, authorities recovered computers, a computer scanner used to make fake identification, computer software and dozens of bank receipts, among other things.

The investigation continues, Pliszka said.

"We are finding more things," he said. "It tends to snowball.

"There's a potential there are unrealized losses," that will be showing up in bank statements, Pliszka said.

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