LAPORTE | A suspected counterfeit check ring from Chicago might be starting to crack after banks in the LaPorte area began alerting each other through e-mails to keep an eye out for holders of the worthless pieces of paper.
Police believe the suspects hit a bank in Chesterton before heading to LaPorte.
LaPorte Police Chief of Detectives Tom Thate said at least five individuals were going from bank to bank Wednesday presenting checks apparently hot off a computer printer.
The first crack in the ring formed after one of the individuals succeeded in having a counterfeit check cashed for more than $1,300 at LaPorte Savings Bank at 710 Indiana Ave.
After the man left, another clerk noticed the check was not real and started putting out e-mails to other financial institutions containing the description of the fraudulent check.
Tabitha Jones, 25, of Chicago, soon walked in to another LaPorte Savings Branch at 301 Boyd Blvd.
Right away, the freshly informed clerk noticed the check presented by Jones looked just like the one described in the alerts and called police.
Thate said the teller stalled Jones long enough for police to get there and take her into custody.
Thate said checks belonging to a LaPorte construction business with a LaPorte Savings Bank account somehow were obtained.
The checks were already made payable to people whose names were replaced with other names.
At least one member who succeeded in cashing a phony check produced a legal ID from Illinois to verify his name and signature.
Thate said he doesn't know if others were involved in the ring or the extent of their counterfeiting activities.
''I think it all occurred on the same day but how long it's been occurring I don't know,'' said Thate, who added the ring also stoppled at the branch in Chesterton.
Chesterton Police Detective Chuck Rinker did not have details but said rings many times "just move right through counties doing that stuff."