Secret Service Investigation: Suspect Stole $24,000 In Checks From P.O. Boxes
SPRINGDALE (KFSM) – One of the eight suspects arrested this month in a check-washing scheme says he stole checks from area P.O. boxes in excess of $24,000, according to a U.S. Secret Service investigation.
Shawn Cox, 31, was arrested June 25 on suspicion of a separate crime. He was arrested again while in custody last Wednesday (July 9) in connection with the check-washing scheme, according to a preliminary report from the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office.
He remained Tuesday in the Washington County Detention Center on $100,000 bond. He has arraignment dates on each of the three forgery counts set for July 23, July 28 and Aug. 8, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office website.
Cox was one of eight people recently arrested after police said they stole checks from local residents’ mailboxes, altered them, forged them and cashed them at area banks. Cox said in an interview with investigators, though, that he stole checks from area Post Office boxes without anyone else’s assistance, according to the preliminary report.
Cox came to the attention of law enforcement July 7 after a woman came forward saying she wrote a $50 check and sent it out in the mail. She later discovered the check was changed and written for $389 payable to Cox, the report states.
The check was cashed at Chambers Bank in Springdale on June 16.
Secret Service Agent Aaron Baker became involved in the case two days later because of the large number of local cases involving check theft, the preliminary report states. At least 14 suspects have been arrested since last month in connection with stealing checks out of mailboxes and forging them, arrest records show.
Cox admitted to investigators during an interview to passing more than 60 forged checks between May and June, negotiating at least $24,000 from local banks by stealing and altering checks, according to the preliminary report.
Each check was at least $400, with some being written for $800.
An investigation into the case led authorities to 705 McKinney St. in Springdale, the base of operation for the check-forging scheme, according to the Springdale Police Department. Police, along with members of the Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Service, served a warrant Friday on the location and said they found computers, scanners, printers, stolen checks, stolen mail, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
The suspects also made fake identification cards to go with the fake checks, according to Springdale police.
The other seven suspects arrested in this case include Christopher Evans, 30, Michelle Mast, 35, Candice Watkins, 26, Spencer Mason, 32, Erick Picker-Ramirez, 34, William Bashlor, 29, and Angelina Elliott, 29.
Six suspects were arrested last month in a check-washing scheme, in which the suspects allegedly stole checks out of mailboxes. Police said the two cases are likely related.