Whitlock Realty and Construction has been in business since 1963. But, just last week it got its first taste of check fraud.
“The bank notified us that we were overdrawn on Thursday and this all kind of just put us in a panic,” co-owner Skip Fife said.
Three checks written and cashed for almost $5,000.
Co-owner Skip Fife says he doesn’t know the suspects,but believes the thieves could have intercepted a check he had mailed.
“If it was stolen in the mail or if it was picked up at the suppliers. Or you just don’t know who picked it up and who altered it,” Fife said. “It’s just been a big mystery to us.”
Fife’s not the only victim.
Police allege that Paul Murphy and Jamal Dial have been running schemes in
Monroe, Calhoun, Farmerville and Bastrop.
Victim Skip Fife says he’s heard from other small business owners and that the fraud stretches further than that.
“I’ve heard that they happened everywhere from Bastrop to Baton Rouge,” said Fife.
Officers used surveillance video to tie Murphy and Dial to the theft.
The real breakthrough came when a teller at Origin Bank noticed something fishy about the check.
“I think the guy noticed something was wrong and he left the store but left his wallet behind,” said Bastrop Police Chief Allen Campbell.
Using the ID left behind, police searched for the suspects.
Paul Murphy and Jamal Dial are both being held at Ouachita Correctional Center on more than $40,000 bond.
They’re charged with Criminal Conspiracy and multiple charges of Forgery and Bank Fraud.
Bastrop Police Chief Alan Campbell says you’re better off not carrying a personal checkbook out if you don’t absolutely need to, and to keep business checks where you can watch them closely.