Police believe a man arrested at a Chandler payday loan store this week had developed a scheme to cash checks using fake pay stubs and accomplices posing as his employees.
Chandler police said 52-year-old Clifford Jack Chester tried to run the scheme at the Checkmate Payday Loans store on Alma School Road north of Ray Road when he was arrested.
According to a preliminary police report, here’s how the scam worked:
Chester would recruit accomplices and have them open a checking account in their name with very little money in it. He then would send them into a payday cash advance store to get a cash advance using phony pay stubs he supplied that made the person appear employed. The accomplice would write a check on the account, get a $400 advance then split the money with Chester.
On Wednesday, police were tipped when the store became suspicious of a man trying to cash a check they believed was fraudulent. When officers arrived they stopped the male suspect inside the quick cash loan store and questioned a female suspect waiting in his car.
During questioning, the officer was approached by an employee from the nearby Philly’s Famous restaurant, who said another man was pacing in the restaurant and watching them question the suspects.
According to the report, the man in the restaurant was Chester. After questioning, he admitted he drove the other suspects to the bad credit payday loan store to cash the check. A background check showed Chester was wanted on previous fraud and forgery charges in Scottsdale and Tempe.
Police said Chester gave written consent to have his car searched, where police found a briefcase full of checks, IDs and bogus company documents in his name, along with methamphetamine and prescription drug bottles.
The two accomplices told police that Chester was the “leader of the fake company” and gave police a copy of a cheat sheet for the scam. Police said they found the original in Chester’s shirt pocket.
Chester was arrested on suspicion of criminal impersonation, fraudulent schemes, identity theft and possession of methamphetamine.