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7 charged in paycheck scam totaling $46,211 at city firm

– Seven people, mostly from Indianapolis, have been charged with stealing more than $46,000 through a paycheck scam committed last year in Fort Wayne.

According to court papers, the scheme involved 16 or more checks that looked like paychecks from Eagle Contracting, a Fort Wayne-based company. The scammers cashed or tried to cash the checks in May 2012 at Grabill Bank branches in the city, and they got away with $46,211.58, court files said.

The scam was detected May 16 when police were sent to a Grabill branch on a report of a man, later identified as James Terry, trying to cash what looked like a check for $7,356.21 from Eagle Contracting, court papers said.

Terry told police he had received the check from another man who offered him $1,500 to cash the check. Terry also said he saw the man print the check before giving it to him, according to court papers. Police spoke with the owner of Eagle Contracting, and he confirmed the check was fake, court papers stated.

Terry, 27, faces a charge of corrupt business influence. Court records gave no address for him.

An investigation linked six more people to the scam through fingerprints lifted from the checks, court papers said. Those six were charged Tuesday in Allen Superior Court.

Philip Brant, 47, of Crawfordsville, and Jennifer Kelly, 46, of Indianapolis, were both charged with corrupt business influence, four counts of theft and four counts of forgery. Donald Blitz, 58, and Kurt Hinkle, 51, both of Indianapolis, were each charged with corrupt business influence, two counts of theft and two counts of forgery.

John Koss Jr., 58, of Indianapolis, was charged with corrupt business influence, theft and forgery. Josh Allen, 28, of Indianapolis, was charged with corrupt business influence, three counts of forgery and three counts of theft.

aingersoll@jg.net

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