Bank accounts under false names, forged checks and debit cards stolen from mailboxes are part of a wide-ranging alleged illegal identification theft and mail fraud scheme in the Midlands, officials said.
Three people have been arrested and three more are being sought.
“Suspects were depositing stolen and forged checks into fraudulent bank accounts,” said Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon in a Friday press release that announced three arrests in the scheme.
The checks were stolen from mailboxes, Koon said.
“These bank accounts were in the names of more than 20 people who had no idea their identities had been compromised,” Koon said.
The Lexington County sheriff’s department is working the still-ongoing case with the U.S Postal Inspection Service.
According to warrants, the three arrests so far are:
▪ Rachel Dawn Elizabeth Hayden, 20, of Gaston. She is charged with financial identity fraud, financial transaction card theft, criminal conspiracy and a drug charge.
▪ Cathy Lynn Sayman, 21, of Pelion. Her charges are financial identity fraud, forgery and criminal conspiracy.
▪ Christopher Stokes Shealy Jr., 23, of South Congaree. He is charged with financial identity fraud, financial transaction card theft, forgery, criminal conspiracy and a drug charge.
They are in custody at the Lexington County jail.
“Our investigation into the scheme started during a Jan. 26 traffic stop on a stolen vehicle,” Koon said. “The deputy found checks that appeared to be forged and numerous debit cards inside the car. “
The scheme had apparently been running since at least late 2020, he said.
Three others against whom charges have been sworn out but are not yet in custody are David Alan Payton, 20, of Gaston; Joshua Keith Shanklin, 25, of Swansea; and James Elbert Tindall, 22, of Salley, Koon said.
“Anyone who knows where Payton, Shanklin and Tindall might be should share that information with us through Crimestoppers,” Koon said.