TPD: 'Recruiters' Use Homeless Man To Cash Counterfeit Checks
TULSA, Oklahoma - Five people are in jail after police said four men came to Tulsa to recruit homeless people to cash counterfeit checks.
For years, people have been working the scheme. In the past, Tulsa police have been able to arrest some of the homeless people who actually cash the checks, but they've never been able to arrest the actual recruiters, until now.
The homeless are easy prey, so when recruiters pull up and offer them food and up to $500 to go cash checks for them, they often agree. Police said that's what happened in Tulsa Thursday.
But, thanks to an alert teller, the homeless man, Ronnie Allen, didn't get to cash the check from an Oklahoma City business. Instead, he was arrested.
According to an arrest report, the teller noticed a note on the account that a counterfeit check was cashed on the account, so the teller called the account holder who confirmed the check was counterfeit.
Corporal Steve Whittington with the Tulsa Police Financial Crimes Unit said, "The checks are counterfeit from bank accounts that are stolen through the mail or in burglaries."
The officer then tracked the recruiters to a motel in east Tulsa and arrested four people – Christopher Smith, Jerrell Mixon, Martell Gaillard and Oliver Pinkston - who said they were from Georgia.
The officer said he found more counterfeit checks and several blank checks pre-signed on the same Oklahoma City business as the check that was nearly cashed.
Catching the recruiters is tough because they're only in town a few weeks and they know how to distance themselves from the crime.
"They park several blocks down, they never go into the bank so we don't have pictures of them and stuff," Whittington said.
Federal prosecutors may now get involved in the case because the recruiters cross state lines to use the homeless men as mules to cash the checks.
Tulsa police would like to send a message to recruiters that Tulsa is off limits. So, if you are approached by one of them, call 911.