The impact of a counterfeit check ring

Tuesday, October 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Breaking up a counterfeit check ring. Three men got federal prison time for their scheme to print fake checks from Tulsa businesses and cash them. They made $80,000 in three months and it took investigators two years to sort it all out.

News on Six crime reporter Lori Fullbright explains how the scheme worked. All the checks may look like they come from legitimate businesses. But, they're all counterfeits. And, Napolean Diggs was the mastermind behind it all, he convinced people to get jobs, work until their first paycheck, and then, bring that check to him. Det. Rick Koch, US Secret Service Task Force: "They would take the legitimate check to the printer who would take the information off it to produce the counterfeit." Then, Diggs found financially strapped women to cash the checks at various Tulsa stores, usually for a 40-60 split and he was very careful.

Rick Koch: "He wore gloves when he handed out the checks, so his fingerprints were not on the checks." Even though the fake checks were good enough to get cashed. Detectives say the font was wrong and the numbers were out of order and in one case, the mistake should've been obvious. Rick Koch: "They printed the state seal over the information, which would not be there and they put the seal on the back of the check also." Diggs pleaded guilty along with two of his business partners, Edward Watson and Kevin Walker, they're all serving time in federal prison now.

The bad guys have figured out they don't need to put a gun in a store clerk's face and get $300 and risk going to prison for a violent crime, when they can get a computer and color printer and get 10 times the profit and decrease the risk to a white collar crime. Counterfeiting isn't a victimless crime, the banks cover the businesses and make no mistake, and customers end up covering the banks.

Rick Koch: "Financial institutions are not going to be out money, so the rest of us will end up paying for it, in the for of higher fees." And, the bill will be in the millions, because police say not drugs, not robbery, but, counterfeiting is the crime of the future. Investigators say you should thoroughly check all bank statements and shred all financial documents.