A Freeport woman and a Queens man are each facing up to 7 years in prison after being arrested and charged in what authorities called "a complex scheme" that revolved around placing fake checks into real bank accounts -- and making fast cash withdrawals before the checks bounced.
Shaquanaisa Morris, 24, of 255 Arthur St., Freeport, and Milton Robinson, 27, of 159-01 110th Ave., Jamaica, are each charged with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, fourth-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. Morris was released on her own recognizance after arraignment and has been ordered to appear in Queens Criminal Court on Aug. 25, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Robinson is being held on $30,000 bail. He will next appear in court on Aug. 19.
"The man and woman charged in this scheme allegedly victimized not only the banks where the account was held, but also individuals, who are now on the hook for the cash essentially stolen from the bank," Brown said in a statement released Tuesday.
"Even after the culprits have been prosecuted," Brown said, "the victims will face years of financial adversity and fallout from the alleged scam."
Brown said that Morris shared a Citibank joint checking account with one victim and that the account had an average daily balance of less than $10. But, on July 30, 2014, Brown said six checks totaling more than $4,600 were deposited into the account -- and about 9 1/2 hours later, two ATM withdrawals totaling $986 were made at a Chase bank ATM in Queens.
Not even 15 minutes later, Brown said, a $976 money order was purchased using a debit card held by Morris. Video surveillance shows Morris and Robinson using the card at an ATM, Brown said. Additional video shows Morris buying the money order, Brown said.
The six checks, however, were from a nonexistent bank account, Brown said.
On July 31, 2014, Brown said Morris allegedly deposited a check payable to her at an ATM. The deposit, made at 6:12 a.m., was drawn from the account of a second victim for $1,400.
Surveillance shows Morris and Robinson then withdrawing $1,000 from a different ATM just eight minutes later, Brown said. Less than five minutes after that, he said, they made another withdrawal -- for $1,200. Brown said the second victim did not write the check and does not know the defendants.