There may be Union County residents who have lost hundreds or even thousands of dollars but don’t know it yet.
Sheriff Jimmy Edwards is trying to get the word out about two suspects arrested Tuesday who are accused of stealing a large number of checks and credit cards from mailboxes throughout the area, altering and cashing them.
“They will go through the mail and if there are checks or credit cards they will pull them out,” he said. Then the suspects, evidently pros, are able to “whitewash” the checks to erase old information and replace it with larger totals or different names.
The arrest came after a woman in the Keownville area checked her bank statement Tuesday. “She had put checks in the mail for Direct TV and her dentist,” Edwards said, but the statement showed the checks for different, larger amounts entirely.
Officers were able to determine some of the checks were used at Wal-Mart. “Investigators went to Wal-Mart, got good video and were able to determine who they were and that they lived in Union County,” the sheriff said.
After serving search warrants, they arrested Victoria Goodson, 31, and Michael Anthony Lamacchia, 36, both of 1383 County Road 172, Dumas. “She is from North Carolina and in fact wanted there,” Edwards said. Both suspects were recently released from prison for similar charges, he added.
Deputies were able to recover a number of checks and credit cards and are trying to determine the names of victims. “They called about a dozen this morning,” Edwards said, “None of them knew the money was missing.”
The checks were for varying amounts. Edwards said one $1,000 check had been changed to $4,000. A checkbook had been stolen from an elderly victim who is ill, Edwards added.
The suspects apparently opened four online bank accounts with the stolen money and may have obtained credit cards also.
The sheriff has no idea how many victims there are who don’t yet know they are victims, and that’s why he wants to get the word out to the surrounding area. “They’ve been doing this a couple of months,” he said, and they have raided mailboxes throughout the area. “We’ve got some from the other side of the county,” he said. “They may have been doing this all the way from North Carolina.”
So far, bond has not been set because the charges against the two are still undetermined. “There could be dozens,” he said. Lamacchia is charged with false pretense and possession of methamphetamine and Goodson faces similar charges. Edwards said multiple counts of identity theft, false pretense and other charges and U. S. Postal Inspectors are getting involved as well.
North Carolina officials want to extradite Goodson but she must deal with Union County charges first.
Edwards urges everyone to check their bank accounts and balances to see whether any money is unaccounted for. He also would like to know if anyone has seen the two whose photos are shown. He added they have been travelling in a silver Mercedes believed to be a 2004 model year, or near that.
No one else appears to be involved in the crimes, Edwards said.