MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s the stuff you see in movies; a brilliant criminal who’s outsmarting the cops. In Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo DiCaprio, cashed fraudulent checks. Now, this classic scam is going to another level in South Florida. Coral Gables Police admitted Thursday they are scratching their heads.
“We don’t know who they are,” Kelly Denham with Coral Gables Police said.
And it doesn’t appear they are getting close to either.
It all started with Randazzo’s Little Italy Restaurant in Coral Gables. Someone cloned their paychecks. Yessenia Randazzo handles the restaurants books.
“I’ve never written a $40,000 or $50,000 dollar check from that account or any account. So that was my first alert,” she said.
With the counterfeit checks the thief called AAA Sundries in Downtown Miami. They ordered 50 plus Michael Kors watches. The thief than deposits the fake checks in the store owners bank account. Once the checks clear AAA Sundries releases the watches.
A courier swings by and picks them up and then delivers them to an office building parking lot where someone signs for them with a fake ID.
By the time Randazzo’s realized they didn’t write that check, track it to AAA Sundries and then the courier, days if not weeks have gone by. The trail ends with a delivery to a parking lot.
“We hope they catch him before we do,” Marc Randazzo jokingly told CBS4
All joking aside. Whoever is doing this is quite smart. The scam has been run six times now for more than $60,000. The thieves taking business for liquor and jewelry. Stuff that’s easily fenced.
The owner of AAA Sundries told CBS4 his bank has him on the hook for $9,000 in fake checks. Even though he didn’t write them. Just accepted them as payment. It turns out the crooks tried other stores next door but they all turned them down.
Detectives from Coral Gables to North Miami have seen every lead fall apart.
Kelly Denham points to a bank camera picture. “This is the only good lead we have right now. Is this individual that’s pictured. He’s depositing the checks all throughout the county.” she said.
The picture is of a man who’s 50-65 year old man weighing as much as 400 pounds. Why do we not know who he is?
“Because the checks are under $10,000. You don’t need to have ID. And he’s depositing the money. He’s not withdrawing the money,” Denham explained.
Is he the mastermind or just another pawn in a brilliant operation? Either way Coral Gables Police would love to hear from you if you have any idea who he is.