Scammers target Toledo homeless with fraudulent check bribes
TOLEDO, Ohio (WNWO) -- Two men from Chicago are facing charges after targeting the homeless with counterfeit check bribes.
But so are their homeless victims.
Perrysburg Township Police said 25-year-old Cody Johnson and 28-year-old Kelvin Moton were soliciting homeless individuals near Cherry Street Mission Ministries, to cash fraudulent checks.
During a traffic stop in Perrysburg, on Highway 20 near Helen Drive, police discovered the illegal activity when the two men from Chicago were in the car with three homeless men; Joseph King Sr., Gregory Lowman and Marty Allemnious.
"It was a traffic stop, there was narcotics in the car and it was through that furtherance of the investigation, that we were able to determine that they were involved in more criminal activity," said Sgt. Todd Curtis, Perrysburg Township Police Department detective.
They attempted to lure a number of other people in downtown Toledo, including Neil Payton, who is a guest at Cherry Street Mission from New York and has only been in Toledo for a few weeks.
Payton said they offered him $250 to cash a $1,000 check, but he sensed that something was wrong and declined their offer.
"You stand to lose more than you can gain for a quick buck, you know what I mean that's the real deal, sometimes you think you know I'm making a fast dollar right here but down the road that's coming to come back on you, what if you have your life set up and then all of a sudden you have this check fraud thing coming back," said Payton.
Moton and Johnson are being charged with extortion, theft, forgery and taking the identity of another.
The three homeless men who took them up on their offer, are facing forgery and theft by deception charges.
Dan Rogers is the Cherry Street Mission Ministry chief executive officer and described this as a predatory act.
"It is trafficking in the way that you're abusing and being a predator to another human being and making their life even more vulnerable for your own gain and your own good," said Rogers.
He said this type of predatory action happens to members of the homeless community often, because they are vulnerable.
"We have people that will come into our parking lot and put people to work, and then they work all day and they don't get paid," said Rogers. "So there's all kind of things that happen like that, and so it's not a regular thing in the fact that it happens throughout the year, but it is consistent in the fact that a year wont pass that it hasn't happened."
Moton and Johnson are being held on a $65,000 bond in the Wood County Jail. Their next court date is November 13.