27-year-old Shirley Pierre-Louis of Timberline Drive in Winter Haven was arrested yesterday for her role in fraudulently cashing dozens of U.S. Treasury checks worth over $140,000 in total. She has been charged with Scheming to Defraud over $50,000 (1 ct) F1; Aggravated White Collar Crime over $100,000 (1 ct) F1; Criminal Use of Personal ID over 20 victims (1 ct) F2; Criminal Use of Personal ID over $5,000 (9 cts) F2; Criminal Use of Personal ID under $5,000 (7 cts) F3; and Grand Theft over $50,000 (2 cts) F2. Pierre is being held on $97,000 bond in the Polk County Jail.
PCSO’s investigation determined that between 2013 and 2014, Ms. Pierre engaged in a systematic ongoing fraud by knowingly allowing multiple people to cash checks in various victims' names at a Winter Haven check cashing business where Ms. Pierre worked. She used her position of trust as an employee to facilitate at least 40 unlawful check cashing transactions involving stolen Internal Revenue Service Treasury checks, totaling $142,134.01.
Detectives have determined that the valid U.S. Treasury checks (mailed from the Internal Revenue Service) were most likely stolen from mail boxes from areas throughout central Florida (Polk County, Tampa, & Orlando areas). When detectives attempted to contact those named on the checks, some were located, some of those named had apparently moved, and some were either bad addresses or detectives could not confirm that the person had lived at the address.
The investigation revealed that Ms. Pierre was the only person observed on surveillance video assisting the people who cashed the checks. Ms. Pierre created false check cashing membership applications for those cashing the checks, instead of entering correct information and scanning valid identification cards. Many of the checks made payable to women were cashed by men and others made payable to women were cashed by men. A number of different checks were cashed by the same unknown people, either during one visit or over multiple visits. No legitimate IDs were recorded by Ms. Pierre.
Ms. Pierre has admitted to receiving money for her participation in allowing the illegal activity. She has refused to reveal the identities of the check cashers. PCSO detectives are asking the public to help identify people seen in surveillance images captured at the time they were cashing the stolen checks. Their images are attached and can be found on www.polksheriff.org and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/polkcountysheriff.
Anyone with information concerning the identity of those pictured (or information about the investigation) is urged to contact Det. Kara Preston at 863-292-3356 or 298-6200. Tips can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward, please call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477) or log onto www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and leave a tip. ANONYMITY IS GUARANTEED! iPhone and Droid users can download a free tip submit app to anonymously report crime. To install these free apps, please visit www.tipsoft.com.