Atlanta man charged in Stamford check-forging scheme
STAMFORD — A man from Atlanta, Georgia turned himself over to police Tuesday and was arrested for his part in cashing $21,000 worth of counterfeit checks from a Stamford construction company, police said.
Tolulope Rahman Salam, 34, was charged with first-degree larceny and was released after posting a $150,000 court-appearance bond.
Officer Michael Stempien, an investigator in Stamford’s Financial Crimes Unit, said a local construction company had their checking account compromised in March and reported that $101,000 worth of forged checks had been cashed by different people around the country. Police traced the cashed checks to a woman in Iowa, who appears to have been taken in by a romance scam perpetrated upon her by an unknown man, Stempien said. The woman is cooperating with the investigation, he said.
The woman thought she was helping ship a package that was supposed to be delivered to her boyfriend’s business, Stempien said. She believed the money was covering the cost of the shipment, but she ended up transferring $21,000 into an account controlled by Salam, Stempien said.
“We have done multiple search warrants on the accounts that she deposited money into and we determined that Salam benefited from the funds she transferred into his account. When we spoke with him, he told us numerous inconsistencies on why he received the money and we ultimately completed an arrest warrant for him,” Stempien said.
Earlier this year Salam pleaded guilty to one federal charge of smuggling goods from the United States, for trying to bribe a U.S. Customs officer to export luxury cars to Nigeria and and avoiding a $20,000 per car tariff on the cars when they reached Africa.
Stempien said the bank has reimbursed the construction company for its loss.
As far as romance scams like these go, Stempien said they are quite common.
“Online romance schemes are commonly used to facilitate financial crimes like these and the victims don’t know what they are are doing and unaware they are involved in this kind of thing. It happens a lot,” he said.
Salam is scheduled for arraignment Oct. 1 at the Stamford courthouse.