The son knew something was wrong when he spotted several letters congratulating his father on opening new bank accounts. His father is blind, hard of hearing, suffering from dementia and confined to a nursing home.
About $30,000 had been drained from a Bank of America account, leaving about $2,300.
A U.S. postal inspector traced the withdrawals to suspicious accounts in the father’s name at Key Bank and Banco Popular.
The clues had all the earmarks of a check washing scheme that has plagued Tarrytown and other Westchester and Rockland county communities for several years.
In a check washing scheme, the perpetrator intercepts a check, uses a solution to remove the recipient’s name and the amount on the check, and writes in a new name and amount.
Check washers often acquire personal information of the victim or another person and open fraudulent bank accounts. The washed checks are deposited into the phony account and then transferred to other bank accounts controlled by the thief.
Postal inspector Nicholas Iannone has identified 14 victims who were allegedly defrauded in this manner, from March to May.
Evidence led back to two brothers in the Bronx.
On Nov. 5, an indictment was filed in federal court in White Plains, charging Jahquan Crump and Tafari Crump of the Williamsbridge section with bank fraud and identity theft.
Iannone identified checks totaling $55,000, from bank accounts of seven victims, that were deposited into a Key Bank account. Each check, according to the criminal complaint, was either forged, counterfeited or unauthorized.
Funds from the Key Bank account were transferred to a TD Bank account in the name of Demarco Live IN Bronx USA, and from there to a personal account held by Jahquan Crump.
Demarco Live and the Key Bank account use the same address on Burke Avenue used by Jahquan, who also uses an address in East Orange, New Jersey.
In the nursing home case, some of the diverted funds were ultimately transferred to Tafari Crump, according to the criminal complaint.
The complaint does not explain how the Crumps chose their alleged victims, intercepted checks or got access to personal information for opening bank accounts.