Lancaster man accused theft, prowling as part of fraudulent check cashing scheme, police say
LANCASTER COUNTY — Police have charged a 23-year-old Lancaster man with identity theft, fraud, firearms violations and other offenses relating to his involvement in a suspected fraudulent check-cashing scheme in July.
Jonathan Carlos Carmona, of the first block of Hoover Road, was charged with firearms not to be carried without a license, illegal possession of a firearm, two counts of fraud, possessing an instrument of crime, identity theft, theft by unlawful taking, theft from a motor vehicle (six counts), and loitering or prowling at night after an investigation by East Hempfield Township Police, who were dispatched to the area of Treetops Drive in the early morning hours of July 29 for the report of a man dressed in black using a penlight to look inside vehicles in the neighborhood, according to a criminal complaint affidavit filed Tuesday.
Police responding to the scene found a suspect, later identified as Carmona, sitting in the passenger side of a vehicle parked in a driveway. Police later confirmed Carmona did not live in the neighborhood and was sitting in a vehicle that did not belong to him, the complaint states.
A search of Carmona produced $366 in cash, a large bag of loose change, 12 blank checks belonging to four different account holders, an iPhone X, a Mastercard debit card, and an eight-pack of AAA batteries, police say.
Police contacted the owner of the vehicle Carmona was found in, who reported $17 was missing from the vehicle. A search of the vehicle also found a key fob that did not belong to that vehicle, police say. The vehicle the key fob belonged to was found at a nearby intersection and impounded, according to the complaint.
Police say they spoke to the people whose names were on the checks found on Carmona, who said the checks had been inside their vehicles. Other residents in the area reported cash and other items were missing, police say.
After obtaining a search warrant, police searched Carmona’s vehicle and found a child-support check that the check-writer said had been sent in the mail, along with two suspected fraudulent paychecks from an area business. Police spoke to employees at the business, who confirmed the checks were fraudulent, the complaint states.
Police say they also found several items of mail in Carmona’s vehicle, some of which they later determined contained personal checks that had been made out to pay utility bills and placed in residential mailboxes, according to the complaint.
The search also produced a Davis Industries .22-caliber “Derringer” pistol in Carmona’s vehicle. Carmona is not licensed to carry a firearm and is barred from owning one, police say.
Police also discovered a laptop computer, an inkjet printer, and a box that originally contained 250 blank checks that appeared to be the same check stock that the fraudulent business checks were written on, the complaint states. Several checks were missing from the box, police say.
Investigators say suspects in fraudulent check cashing schemes often steal checks to record the routing number, account number, check number, and account holder information in order to print fraudulent checks on common check stock purchased at office supply stores.
The suspects will then write out fake checks to family members, friends, homeless people, drug addicts, or other suspects to cash or deposit into their personal accounts, according to police. The suspect is then given the cash for the amount of the written check, and the person who deposits or cashes the fraudulent check receives a small payment for his or her services, police say.