Cook County prosecutors have secured the guilty plea of a Chicago man who was involved in a Chicago-based counterfeit check cashing ring that produced and cashed an estimated $2 million worth of phony checks, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Deangelo Evans, 27, of Chicago, has pled guilty to the charge of Continuing a Financial Crimes Enterprise and he has been sentenced to five years in prison. Evans is the 54th and final defendant to be convicted in the ongoing investigation called ‘Operation Paperhanger,’ which was conducted jointly between the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Financial Crimes Unit and the United States Secret Service.
According to prosecutors, Evans and his codefendants were part of a ring that produced large amounts of fraudulent checks and then recruited other individuals, typically young women, to cash them at local currency exchanges. Typically they would use the personal information of the people they recruited such as their name and address when they produced the phony checks. They would visit numerous currency exchanges and keep the amounts below $500 to avoid arousing suspicion.
In April of 2010, after arresting 35 of the ring’s check cashers, investigators were able to identify the leaders of the ring. In addition to Evans, Antaneaio Scates, 31, of Chicago, Tomeka Carlock, 29, of Chicago were identified as the ring’s recruiters. Investigators also identified Benjamin Brown, 29, of Chicago, and Michael Carr, 29, of Chicago, as printers. All of these individuals have also pled guilty and have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to eight years.
Investigators estimated that the ring produced approximately $2 million in fraudulent checks that were cashed throughout Cook County and neighboring states.
Alvarez thanked the U.S. Secret Service and the Assistant State’s Attorneys from the Financial Crimes Unit for their work on the case. She said the long-term operation was effective at dismantling an organized crime that has a significant impact on consumers.
“The first victims in this type of crime are the financial and banking institutions that incur significant financial losses when they are ripped off by these con artists,” Alvarez said. “The next victims become consumers who are forced to pay higher fees to cover the costs of these losses,” said Alvarez.