COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) – A scam suspect is on the run after Colorado Springs police arrested him for defrauding more than 30 victims out of thousands of dollars.
The CSPD arrested Alize Hicks, 25, and a 17-year-old boy in April. Both are from the Chicago area. However, police say Hicks did not show up on his last court date, so he is now listed as a fugitive.
The Colorado Springs Police Department has contacted 11 Calls to Action to share this scam pattern, so no one else falls victim to it or a similar ruse.
The scam began in the summer of 2020. Colorado Springs Police said it came to the attention of the department after a bank noticed a pattern of suspicious activity and contacted officers.
“In business, this is called ‘card cracking’ – a specific methodology for stealing money from financial institutions,” CSPD Detective Wayne Lambert said.
The bank told police it had noticed a number of forged checks deposited in the accounts of members of the bank.
“In total, around 35 members fell for this scam,” Lambert said. “The scam is that I meet someone and ask them to deposit a check into their account. Sometimes I share the money with them. Sometimes I just ask them to negotiate the check, cash the check for me, and I get the money back. Later, after the verification process, it turns out that this is a fictitious – counterfeit – coin and that there is no money in that particular bank account, and the account owner is then responsible for this lost money. “
In one case, court documents indicate that an 18-year-old victim made two mobile deposits for $ 999.99 and $ 998.99. A few minutes later, the victim made two ATM withdrawals for $ 500 each.
According to court documents, the next morning the same victim deposited two more checks via mobile deposit. One was for $ 999.99. The other was for $ 499.99. Within minutes of depositing these checks, the victim withdrew $ 500 from another ATM. The victim then entered that bank and withdrew an additional $ 600.
Court documents indicate that the four checks the victim cashed were forged and the victim lost approximately $ 1,703.
Colorado Springs Police said the suspects in the case would be arriving by plane from Chicago and targeting Colorado Springs youth. Court documents indicate that the ages of the victims are 18, 19, 20 and 23. Some names and ages of victims have been redacted from the documents, meaning they are likely under 18.
After arriving in the city, the suspects met young people around the city.
“In one instance, they actually met two women at a traffic light and struck up a conversation, kind of flirted back and forth,” Lambert said. “Then they called and met later. “
It was the victims who helped the police solve the case.
According to court documents, police contacted the two victims and learned that they had scheduled an appointment with the suspects to deposit more checks.
“Detectives and ministry officials set up surveillance of the meeting site,” court documents said. “The suspects arrived and were contacted by the police. During this time [redacted] and [redacted] saw the two men and identified them as the suspects.
At that time, police arrested Hicks and the 17-year-old boy. Once the couple were booked and their photos taken, police lined up photos with other victims who fell into similar scams, and many identified one or both of the suspects as the people they had worked with.
While investigating the case, police said a new trend had emerged. The detectives realized that the suspects were using the social network application “Snapchat” to attract even more victims.
“The suspects were putting funny little videos on it,” Lambert said. “Lots of flashing money, little music videos, and the hook was you can get government money. It’s free money. It’s easy money, and that’s how the victims fell into the trap.
In some cases, Colorado Springs Police have said that suspects would gain access to a victim’s Snapchat account and then use it to cheat on the victim’s friends. Detectives started calling this scam “Snapchat Dave” because the suspect said his name was Dave.
“They would work through all of the contacts in Snapchat’s lists and post their videos,” Lambert said. “Some of the victims actually thought they were talking with a friend and didn’t realize it was these people.”
Court documents detail how suspects would meet victims, deposit their phone and mobile deposit checks into their bank accounts, and then tell victims to withdraw all or part of that money from their accounts.
According to the documents, “the majority of victims were led to believe that there had been no criminal act.”
Since the scam specifically targeted teens and young adults, Lambert said it’s important for parents to talk to their kids about being careful on social media.
“There is no free money,” Lambert said. “Not in this world, and especially on social media, do not fall into the trap.”
According to court records, Hicks faces nearly 50 charges of theft, forgery and identity theft.
11 Call For Action spoke to Ent Credit Union about ways to avoid such scams. LaShae Woodard is the Vice President of Financial Crimes for Ent. She said they have a team of fraud investigators who identify scams and work to help members avoid becoming victims.
“It’s hard to say exactly how often this happens,” said Woodard. “It could be daily, it could be weekly. We see different types, whether they are minors as victims or old people as victims.
Regarding bank fraud, she said scammers will usually give you something to cash in and return or they will try to get you to send money, thinking you owe taxes, you have a money order. or some other trick.
“If they ask you for your online banking username, your online banking PIN. If they ask for your full card number, those are warning signs because these are things your financial institution wouldn’t ask you, ”said Woodard. “We would already know your card number. We don’t know your ATM or debit card PIN, so we won’t ask you to verify yourself. We do not have access to your online banking PIN, so we will not ask you for it either.
For counterfeit checks, Woodard said one of the biggest red flags is misspelled words or if the date is in an odd format.
If you receive a check in the mail and you don’t know why, take it to your bank.
“Don’t drop off to see if it’ll come back. Let your bank help you do the research, ”said Woodard.
When speaking to teens and young adults about banking safety, Woodard said parents should make sure their children know their account information is kept private.
“Don’t give your friends your card or your PIN,” Woodard said. “Do not share this information even if it is your best friend, because then he could access your card, and you would be responsible if he used it and you gave him the PIN.”
Woodard said if parents have an account with their kids, they can set up text alerts for mobile deposits.
“That way you can keep tabs on what’s going on without having to watch it so hard, you know, by logging in yourself,” she said. “You can just set an alert – anything over $ 100, anything over $ 200, any deposit – and it’ll alert you.”
Anyone who thinks they are the victim of a scam or fraud should alert their bank immediately. If you lose money because of a scam, be sure to report it to the police as well.
You can also report scams, frauds, and price hikes to the Colorado Attorney General’s office online or by calling 800-222-4444.
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