St. Helens Police Department says suspects stole bank account numbers for use in scam

HoagSt. Helens Police arrested three suspects last week on charges related to a counterfeit check cashing scheme. The suspects allegedly used stolen bank account numbers, blank checks and a home computer to create phony checks and withdraw several thousand dollars from the accounts of local businesses, according to a St. Helens Police Department press release.

Police first arrested Norman Hoag, 29, of St. Helens, on March 12 after identifying him as a suspect in the counterfeit check case. Police suspect Hoag cashed phony checks at the St. Helens IGA market with account numbers stolen from local businesses such as Pacific Stainless, Anderson's Western Safety Supply and K&C Landscaping, the press release stated.

Hoag was booked in the Columbia County Jail on allegations of first-degree theft, first-degree forgery and nine counts of identity theft. His bail was set at $171,250.

Police continued their investigation as similar counterfeit checks began to appear at the St. Helens Wal-Mart and St. Helens Safeway, as well as multiple Portland locations.

OwensThe day following Hoag's arrest, officers identified two more suspects allegedly involved in printing and cashing the fraudulent checks. Officers and detectives served a search warrant to residents of 1225 1st St. in Columbia City, March 13.

Upon arriving at the scene, officers arrested Robert Dwayne Owens, 29, and Carley Ann Munderloh, 33. During the search, officers collected several pieces of evidence relating to the case suggesting the suspects were printing the counterfeit checks at the Columbia City residence.

Owens and Munderloh were also lodged in the Columbia County Jail and charged with seven counts of first-degree forgery. Owens was additionally charged with unlawful possession of methamphetamine. Owens' bail is set at $120,000, while Munderloh's bail is set at $105,000, the release stated.

Munderloh Police believe additional arrests are likely as the investigation continues, according to the release.

The amount suspects stole from local businesses as of Monday, March 17, is approximately $4,200, but that number may climb as other checks are returned, the release stated.

“Anyone cashing payroll checks should be extra vigilant,” said St. Helens Police Chief Terry Moss. “Even when identification is presented and the checks appear legitimate, things can go horribly wrong.”

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