Two illegal immigrants were arrested on Sept. 24 in Melbourne for their participation in a fake check-cashing scam. The two Hispanic males, ages 28 and 29, were in Miller's Supermarket when Izard County deputies approached them. They ran out the door and began running north on Dixon Street, but were apprehended by the deputies a short distance away, according to a press release from the Izard County Sheriff's Office.
The men had more than $2,700 on their persons at their arrests. They are being held at the Izard County Detention Facility with pending charges and a hold by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the release said.
Two more men involved in the scam remain at large. They are thought to be a white van with California tags, in route back to California. Information obtained from the two in custody indicated that the local scam was part of a national scam operated out of California, the release said.
During questioning the men told deputies of the Sheriff's Office that four, four-man teams were working the same scam throughout Missouri and Arkansas, said Izard County Sheriff Tate Lawrence.
"According to information obtained in the interview there are several of these four-person groups running this scam across the country," Lawrence said. The Sheriff's Office is in the process of confirming that the identities of the two men are accurate. They have admitted to being illegal immigrants. One of the two men arrested held a Texas identification card, he said.
"We don't have any reason to believe it is gang related, but it is an organized criminal activity," Lawrence said.
Eight checks cashed in Melbourne and Calico Rock within 48 hours totaled $3,450 before the scams discovery and arrests.
On Sept. 24, two fake payroll checks were cashed at Hometown Market in Melbourne.
Hometown Market contacted the Izard County Sheriff's Office after they discovered that they may have cashed fake checks.
"They were really good looking fake checks," said James Miller, owner of Hometown Market in Melbourne. The checks were written out from fake businesses in the area.
Hometown Market had cashed fake checks on another occasion four to five months ago and had been watching for fake checks ever since, Miller said.
A Hometown Market employee cashed checks with the intent of calling the office once the men left, Miller said.
The Izard County Sheriff's Office responded quickly to the call and were able to apprehend the two men at Miller's Supermarket in Melbourne after they had cash two more fake payroll checks, the release said.
Four checks were cashed at Harp's Grocery Store in Calico Rock, Sept. 23.