More than $120K in checks cashed as part of Pittsburgh-Philadelphia counterfeit ring

PITTSBURGH — An investigation is underway into a counterfeit check cashing ring that spans from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, in which the culprits have gotten away with more than $120,000, according to police paperwork.

Channel 11 News learned a total of 39 warrants have been filed for people in connection with the scheme.

According to the documents, a Munhall police officer was investigating counterfeit checks being drawn off the district court’s bank account for Munhall, Homestead and West Homestead. In all, 22 checks, totaling more than $24,000, were cashed, the warrants said.

A man tried to cash one of the checks in Philadelphia, where he was arrested and started talking to investigators. Officers realized the man was involved in a “much larger” counterfeit check ring, and a pattern emerged, police paperwork said.

Documents detail how fake checks were made just after legitimate checks with account numbers were cashed at a Pittsburgh area Ace Check Cash Express. Investigators went through surveillance videos of banks and other stores, finding 39 suspects.

Documents show some already arrested in connection with the counterfeit check ring are cooperating, taking pictures of the other players involved in the scheme so police could run them through the system.

The people in custody told investigators they were paid $100 for every check they cashed, and that the checks were possibly printed at a house in Lawrenceville, according to police paperwork. They also told police that they were driven around in rental cars, and that the suspects were staying at hotels in the Pittsburgh area.

While it's unclear from the warrants how each person is involved, the documents do indicate that police believe someone with a connection to an Ace Check Cash Express is giving out the account numbers.

When reached for further details, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office said it had no additional information.