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Suspects arrested in 'elaborate' fraud ring | News

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Suspects arrested in 'elaborate' fraud ring


Five people were arrested for their role in what Baldwin County authorities call an "elaborate fraud ring" involving fake checks.

It all started with two fraudulent checks, totaling about $1,600, deposited into a SunTrust bank account in Atlanta.

One was allegedly written by the county commissioners' office to a juror for grand jury duty.

"Our jurors' checks are $35. This check was over $700," said Captain Brad King of the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office.

The second was allegedly written by the Sheriff's Office for an inmate who had bonded out.

King says there's no record of that inmate or the person who supposedly signed the check.

"If they have money on their books for either commissary or phone use, they can receive a check to clear their account," King said.

The fake checks led investigators to a Clayton County apartment, the so-called "manufacturing plant" where the checks were being made.

They also found two more fake checks of more than $150,000 that hadn't been addressed or deposited yet.

"They had numerous identities with the same picture, different names, different birthdays. There was a computer set up with a printer that was set to make checks. They had the stock paper to make checks," King said.

Five suspects were arrested and charged with multiple counts of identity fraud and being a party to the crime.

Ronnie Massenburg, who's 55, bonded out of the Baldwin County jail last month.

The money was deposited into his account but investigators say he claims to be a victim who was not involved in the fraud.

The other four are being held without bond at the Baldwin County jail.

They are Johnesia Cofield, who's 33, Teisha Ponder, who's 23 and siblings Zachariah and Alexandria Hunnicutt, 35 and 34 respectively.

"We have no way of knowing how far they actually branched out," King said.

But he estimates the suspects defrauded numerous organizations of between a quarter to a half million dollars over several years.

"We found receipts for deposits dating back to 2010," he said.

Authorities are still looking for two other suspects, allegedly involved in the fraud ring.

They are Jarvis Green and Bryce Johnson.

If you have any information, you can call the Sheriff's Office at 478-445-4893.

Follow 13WMAZ's Anita Oh on Twitter @anita_oh.


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