Meridian police say they believe they've busted a major forgery ring in the city.
Police announced the arrests of 21-year-old Ahameful Odus, 18-year-old Desire Tamakloe, 21-year-old Chika Egbuziem and 52-year-old Carl Lockhart.
All four are charged with forgery and uttering with a counterfeit instrument.
The MPD has been issuing an increasing number of forgery charges over the past few weeks, with four new charges just last week. And investigators say they now believe that the individuals they've charged were all connected with one single forgery ring.
"Probably brings it up to about nine total charges. What's going on is they're stealing the mail out of mailboxes," Lt. John Griffith said.
After they've accessed your routing number, check number and even signature, they'll forge a check accordingly.
Police say once these individuals have your information, they'll bring in either homeless or low-income individuals off the street to cash these very real-looking checks in their name. Then those individuals get a cut of the profit.
Police have been able to catch most of these individuals when either the victims or banks notice something amiss. But the banks say detecting these phony checks isn't easy.
"The checks themselves look exactly like a legitimate payroll check," Bob Huff, president of Community Bank says. "What really makes it difficult for all the banks is they're actually presenting at the teller window, ID that the check is made out to that person standing in front of them."
The MPD says it is expecting there might be future charges or arrests in this case as they wait for more fake checks to surface. But there are some ways you can help protect yourself from becoming a victim to this crime.
"I suggest you take your mail to the post office box to mail it," Huff says. "Also, monitor your checking account with your bank on a daily basis. Just if you see anything suspicious, contact your bank."