14 people arrested after deputies uncover alleged counterfeit check ring

14 people arrested after deputies uncover alleged counterfeit check ring
14 people arrested for alleged check scheme in Sarasota (Source: Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, Sarasota County Sheriff's Office)

SARASOTA (WWSB) - Fourteen people are accused of defrauding banks in Sarasota out of more than $130,000 over the last six months.

The investigation started in March 2018 after deputies learned of people cashing bogus checks at local banks.

The sheriff's office says this is how the scheme worked: 29-year-old Wilfredo Lopez of Miami would provide counterfeit checks to 22-year-old Eliener Castano-Paredes of Wesley Chapel, who then would recruit people to cash them while Lopez and Castano-Paredes kept a percentage.

Between December 2017 to May 2018, two to three checks were cashed each day in banks all the way from Brandon down to Fort Myers along the I-75 corridor. In Sarasota County alone, 26 transactions took place, costing local banks more than $130,000.

In all, deputies say Lopez and Castano-Paredes stole more than $275,000 throughout Florida.

Both Lopez and Castano-Paredes are charged with scheme to defraud over $50,000. Twelve others have been charged so far:

  • Giomar Almanza-Ibarra, 21, of Tampa, is charged with Uttering a Forged Instrument.
  • Jimmy Moran, 35, of Tampa, is charged with Uttering a Forged Instrument and Grand Theft.
  • Taylor Beverly, 20, of Tampa, is charged with Uttering a Forged Instrument and Grand Theft.
  • Peter Sansone, 50, of Tampa, is charged with Uttering a Forged Instrument and Grand Theft.
  • Orlando Valdes-Borroto, 25, of Tampa, is charged with Uttering a Forged Instrument and Grand Theft.
  • Melissa Burriss, 33, of Tampa, is charged with Criminal Use of Personal Identification and Grand Theft.
  • Kerlis Jimenez, 26, of Tampa, is charged with Uttering a Forged Instrument and Grand Theft.
  • Jaime Amoguea-Fonseca, 31, of Tampa, is charged with Uttering a Forged Instrument and Grand Theft.
  • Christian Castillo-Hernandez, 19, of Tampa, is charged with Uttering a Forged Instrument and Grand Theft.
  • Alejandro Santamaria-Llabona, 18, of Tampa, is charged with Criminal Use of Personal Identification and Grand Theft.
  • Jose Rodriguez, 21, of Ocoee, is charged with Uttering a Forged Instrument and Grand Theft.
  • Harold Romero-Rodriguez, 19, of Tampa, is charged with Uttering a Forged Instrument and Grand Theft.

Deputies say additional charges are pending in the case.

14 people arrested for alleged check scheme in Sarasota
14 people arrested for alleged check scheme in Sarasota (Source: Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, Sarasota County Sheriff's Office)

Copyright 2019 WWSB. All rights reserved.