56 arrested in alleged $5-million stolen check scheme targeting hundreds of Californians

California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta in Playa del Rey in April.
California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta, shown at an event in Playa del Rey in April, announced Friday that 56 people were arrested in connection with an alleged $5-million stolen check scheme that targeted hundreds of California residents.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Fifty-six people have been arrested in connection with the theft of nearly $5 million from hundreds of California residents in a widespread stolen check scheme, authorities said Friday.

The suspects began operating the scheme in 2018 and targeted more than 750 victims across several counties, including Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, state Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said in a release.

They are accused of altering stolen checks, depositing them into bank accounts and withdrawing the money from ATMs before banks discovered the forgeries, according to the release. The suspects then allegedly used the money to fund other crimes.

“Let this be a strong warning to anyone seeking to steal people’s hard-earned money: We will find you, and we will hold you accountable,” Bonta said.

The suspects are facing charges of aggravated white-collar crime in excess of $500,000, conspiracy to commit grand theft by false pretenses, forgery and money laundering, officials said.

“Let this case be an example that this kind of criminal conduct, especially when it involves the U.S. Mail, will not be ignored, or go unpunished,” said Carroll Harris, inspector in charge of the Los Angeles Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.


The arrests mark the end of a yearlong investigation into the case that involved federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including postal inspectors and officers of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Police Department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.