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May 24, 2022

Police bust forgery ring

Counterfeit checks cost local businesses
Police have busted one alleged member of a ring responsible for
passing off more than $25,000 in counterfeit payroll checks to
local businesses.
Counterfeit checks cost local businesses

Police have busted one alleged member of a ring responsible for passing off more than $25,000 in counterfeit payroll checks to local businesses.

Presenting a search warrant on Monday afternoon, Hollister Police detectives found stacks of allegedly counterfeit checks in the home of 22-year-old Ross Bryant Brooks of 841 Line St. He is being held on $65,000 bail in San Benito County Jail on forgery and fraud charges.

Brooks allegedly used real check paper, real banks and real local business names. The banks include Bank of America, Community Bank and Bank of The West. The businesses included Pacific Interlock Paving Stones, Bonessa Enterprises, Marshall’s Landscaping and the SunBridge Care Center. Brooks allegedly formatted the dummy checks on his home computer, and used a run-of-the-mill printer to make them.

Exactly how many businesses were hit, how many ring members there are and how long they operated are not yet known, according to Hollister Police Chief Bill Pierpoint.

“People need to know about these checks, because there could be more floating out there,” he said. “This is the first case I’ve seen of this size. We’re not talking about three or four checks, we’re talking about stacks of checks.”

But HPD detectives will be making more arrests and Pierpoint said there might be another ring member already sitting in a Salinas jail.

The Hollister Baler Market and Hollister Super, which were hit with seven or eight bad checks, got their first batch of checks earlier this summer, according to Business Manager Maria Hernandez. The checks were turned over to the HPD in June or July, but Hernandez said no one had pieced together what was happening at that time.

“You see, the thing is they don’t go the same person,” she said.

One female ring member used the same identification to cash three checks, but went to different store employees each time. Another alleged member of the ring was acquainted with the clerk that cashed the check and is known to live in town, she said. Some of the checks came from companies they were familiar with, such as Manpower, she said.

After a few checks were returned, Hernandez said employees began looking for a pattern. They noticed the numbers printed in small type near the bank’s address, which were supposed to correspond to large numbers printed on the bottom, were totally different.

And they noticed the typeface was out of alignment. One dummy check shown as an example by police from the Bank of the West fails to include the bank’s address. Another one is missing a phone number for the bank.

As a result of the bad checks, the Hollister markets will now cash only checks provided by regular customers, and only if they buy groceries. The last bad check came in September, Hernandez said. Pierpoint said those cashing the checks, not the companies whose names were ripped off, would likely eat the costs.

He urged local business owners to double check payroll checks by calling the company if they have any doubts. Pierpoint said anyone with information about this case can call Detective Alisse Hinton or Detective Sgt. Ray Wood at 636-4330.

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