6 charged in federal indictment using homeless people to cash fraudulent checks

ATLANTA — Federal investigators said four people from metro Atlanta are involved in a multi-state identify-theft ring.

According to a federal indictment, investigators believe the alleged schemers preyed on homeless people.

In total, six people were charged in a recently unsealed indictment by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama. Investigators allege the scheme took place in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Investigators believe Brett Falconer, who was employed at Regions Bank in the Atlanta area, would access private bank information, including account information from checks.

Investigators said two other conspirators would use the information to manufacture fraudulent checks.

The other three would locate people, often the homeless, who had government-issued identification cards to cash the fraudulent checks, according to a federal indictment.

Michael P. Hanle, a Birmingham attorney, said Falconer, his client, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Several sources tell Channel 2's Rachel Stockman that this type of check fraud scheme that preys on homeless people is common.

"They are preying, they are preying on the less fortunate and a lot of them are elderly," said Katheryn Preston, who is the executive director of Georgia Alliance to End Homelessness.

She said she's seen reports of this crime increase.

"We are very vulnerable because at the time we don't have anything," a homeless man, who didn't want to be identified, told Stockman. He said he's been approached often to cash checks.

"Fifty dollars, $100, even $200. I'm excited, I don't look at the consequences, I just look at the fact you are telling me this is legit," the man said.

Daphne Collete Tate and Keith Lamare Reese, who are both from outside of Georgia, entered guilty pleas. The cases for the four Atlanta-based defendants are ongoing.

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