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VAN NUYS : Bank Issues Posters for Forgery Suspect

The bank that uses the image of a stagecoach to reach its customers is turning to another symbol of the Old West to catch a suspected forger.

“Wanted” posters are being issued by Wells Fargo Bank for the first time in the San Fernando Valley, offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a man suspected of impersonating bank customers and cashing $9,463 in forged checks.

“It does kind of go back to the old days where ‘Wanted’ posters were going out,” said Detective Russ Young of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Valley forgery section.

The police are working together with Wells Fargo to catch forgery artists, who are becoming increasingly prevalent in the Valley, Young said.

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“It is hard to catch them because there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of incentive,” said Kathleen Shilkret, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo. “That’s one of the things this program is offering.”

The posters, which will be distributed to merchants, community groups and in post offices, show a picture of the suspect, who allegedly struck several times during July at the Van Nuys branch. The picture was taken from the identification confiscated by the branch.

The posters are being distributed even though no warrant has been issued for the arrest of the suspect, Young said. He claimed that while that was uncommon, it did not constitute a violation of the suspect’s civil rights.

Police say they don’t know the name of the man they are seeking, but they have his picture from bank records.

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Allen Parachini, public affairs director with the American Civil Liberties Union, said that the organization could not comment on whether the poster violated any civil rights laws.

This is the 22nd “Wanted” poster the bank has issued throughout the state since September, 1991, as part of a program to reduce bank-related crimes, Shilkret said.

It shows a picture of the suspected forger and a description.

“It has been successful,” said Lorna Doubet, another spokeswoman with the bank. “Of the 22 so far issued, there have been six arrests to date and two identifications.”

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