Three men were arrested at a Conneaut, Ohio, self-storage facility last week during a sting operation run by local police and the FBI. In total, five men were arrested on March 16 in connection to a check-fraud case that investigators say has cost an Atlanta-based home-supply business more than $100,000 since 2013, according to the source. Investigators believe the self-storage facility was used as the delivery point for a wide range of merchandise. Charges are pending against all of the unidentified suspects.
Police received a tip on March 9, when a representative from the supply company became suspicious while trying to schedule a shipment. Police subsequently learned the business had received several large orders totaling about $118,000 between 2013 and 2015 for which the checks it received were fraudulent. Those orders used fake Ashtabula, Ohio, addresses and business names, and the checks were written from accounts that didn’t exist, according to a court affidavit.
After Conneaut police alerted the FBI, the delivery the company representative was suspicious about was allowed to take place at a storage unit rented by some of the suspects, the source reported. Investigators watched as the supplier’s delivery truck was met at the storage facility by a box truck, a panel van and other vehicles. Some of the merchandise was loaded into the box truck while other items were placed in the storage unit, the source reported.
As soon as the back of the box truck was closed, police swept in and made three arrests. The panel van was also stopped at a nearby fast-food restaurant, where investigators apprehended two other suspects.
Search warrants for the truck and two self-storage units uncovered about $82,000 in merchandise, including appliances and furnaces, interim police chief Michael Colby told the source. Police believe the suspects were using the unpaid merchandise in rental properties or selling it online, Colby said.
- Star Beacon: Five Arrested in Fraud Case