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Bad checks passed to dealers

A Los Angeles County detective said he has gathered information from 30 victims and is looking for more regarding a man who has been passing bogus cashier?s checks to numismatic dealers.

?This individual has been using aliases to buy coins and other material with fake cashier?s checks,? said Det. Joe Pena, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff?s Department. ?The addresses on the checks tend to be public mailbox dropoff places.?

Pena said anyone who has been defrauded by the individual should contact him. The aliases and addresses on the checks known so far have been:

? Marcus Smith, Sunset Pointe Coin, 3763 E. Colorado Blvd. #102, Pasadena, CA 91107.

? Marcus Smith, Lawson, Colbert & Associates, 9852 West Katella Ave., Suite #115, Anaheim, CA 92804.

? James Gilmore, Gilmore, Ellis & Assoc., 8306 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 671,  Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

? Marcus Smith, c/o Williams, Smith and Associates, 3763 E. Colorado Blvd. Suite 102, Pasadena, CA 91107.

Pena said he knows who the alleged criminal is, but catching him is not an easy task.

?He is extremely wily ? even the address on his driver?s license is non-existent,? Pena said.

Pena said there are warning signs dealers should watch for.

?If someone you have never dealt with before sends a cashier?s check out of the blue, without having any type of prior phone contact or trying to haggle over the price, that should be a warning sign,? he said.

He suggested that dealers not send out merchandise until they are sure the checks have cleared.

?Cashier?s checks take two weeks to clear and by then the merchandise has been received,? he said. ?Unfortunately, a couple victims said they asked the tellers if the check was good, and they were told it was. Then, two weeks later, they received notices that the checks were not good.?

Pena also said dealers can use online or other sources to find out if the mailing address on the check is a public mailbox drop-off point.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of the same criminal or has information on the case can reach Det. Pena at (562) 906-5404, or by e-mail at jjpena@lasd.org.

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