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What you need to know for 01/20/2017

$1.7 million in fake checks from Nigeria lead to arrest in Schenectady

$1.7 million in fake checks from Nigeria lead to arrest in Schenectady

A package bound from Nigeria to Schenectady and intercepted by customs officials helped land a New Y

A package bound from Nigeria to Schenectady and intercepted by customs officials helped land a New York City man in federal custody over fake cashier’s checks earlier this month.

In all, the cashier’s checks in the package numbered 358, each with a face value of $4,950 — amounting to more than $1.7 million worth of counterfeit checks, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in Albany.

Ultimately charged with conspiring to possess the fake cashier’s checks was Larry Crews of the Bronx. Crews appeared in federal court in Albany last week and was ordered held on $10,000 bail.

Court paperwork does not indicate what investigators believe Crews was doing with the checks, but it states that he had been stopped previously in New York City with similar fake checks addressed to individuals around the country.

Investigators found Crews after first orchestrating a delivery of the package to the original Schenectady address, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court.

The case began Dec. 2 when a customs agent at a DHL shipping facility in Kentucky searched the package as part of its border search authority, according to the paperwork.

The package was en route from the African nation to an address on Moyston Street in Schenectady. The recipient was an apparently fictitious name with the title of “ambassador” attached.

Inside the package, customs officers found the trove of cashier’s checks. Agents quickly deemed the checks counterfeit based on routing numbers, packaging and previous cases. There was also a lack of security features on the checks.

Customs officers then arranged for the package to be delivered to find out who the real recipient was.

On Dec. 6, a Homeland Security agent, posing as a DHL delivery man, knocked on the Moyston Street address. Residents there first refused the package, saying no one by that name lived there, according to papers.

As the agent returned to the delivery van, though, a man shouted back claiming the package, saying it was for someone the man knew.

That man and a second person were soon stopped by Schenectady police officers as they left the home. After speaking with them, agents were soon led to Crews. In a secretly recorded phone conversation later that evening, Crews allegedly claimed the package, identifying the contents as money orders.

Crews also allegedly asked for the package to be sent to him overnight, addressed to another fake name. Crews also allegedly even gave instructions to have another person send the package so that it could not be traced, according to papers.

Papers also indicate that Crews was stopped by New York City police in August and found in possession of more than $21,000 bank checks later deemed counterfeit. Those checks were in envelopes addressed to various individuals around the United States.

Crews allegedly denied ownership of those checks. The checks were seized, but apparently no charges were brought in that case.

Prosecuting Crews’ federal case is assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Grogan. He could not be reached for comment Thursday. Representing Crews is attorney Timothy Austin. He also could not be reached.

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