7 Arrested, 16 Sought in Scam Ring


By Crandall Sims

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- The Richland County Sheriff's Department has put some of their top investigators on a new unit targeting financial crimes.

For more than eight weeks, the unit has worked to crack, what investigators call, an elaborate scam ring.

"I was offered money to open up an account, so I did it because I needed stuff for my child," says one woman accused of being part of a scamming ring.

Not wanting to be identified a woman, who investigators say, was once part of a scam ring talked to ABC Columbia News about her involvement.

"I knew that I was going to be receiving money from the person who actually was doing the bad checks," says the woman.

Investigators say the group had four ring leaders who recruited others.

Crandall Sims reporting,"Once recruited, an individual would open up a bank account then allegedly give their pin numbers to someone else. Investigators say that's when the writing of the bad checks, from other fraudulent accounts, would start... ultimately defrauding banks and businesses and taking the money of those who originally opened the account."

The woman we spoke with says she didn't know what she was doing was illegal.

But, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says otherwise.

"It doesn't take a genius to figure out it's not right. Nobody is going to give you $100 to go into a bank and open up an account," says Lott

Lott says crimes like this are reported everyday in Richland County, thus the Financial Crimes Unit was recently formed.

"This was very complicated and very ingeniuous," says Investigator Glenn Odell of the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

Glenn is part of that unit and he says the group of accused scammers came up with a plan that was hard to break.

"It was pretty tideous, but once you get one person and a location and once we found out where we were centrally located then we basically have to just get in there and dig,"says Glenn

As for the accused group member we interviewed, for her alleged involvement, she's been charged with accessory to bank fraud and could face jail time.

"I didn't know this was illegal. If I had known I wouldn't ever had did this," says the woman.

In total, banks were defrauded out of more than $20,000.

ABC Columbia News has also learned surveillance video from the banks involved helped catch seven suspects. Sixteen people are still wanted in this case, if you have any information call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

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