AURORA, Colo. – It’s a new twist on an old scam: thieves are targeting teenagers and in some cases getting away with thousands of dollars. Aurora police just busted one ring after a five-month-long investigation.
The Aurora Police Department’s Economic Crimes Unit began investigating a forgery scam in July 2019 that targeted high school students. The suspects used social media to entice teens to provide their bank account information. The victims were promised a small portion of the cash in exchange for the use of their bank accounts. But the suspects used forged money orders and the victims lost thousands and are financially responsible for the lost money.
Through an extensive investigation, investigators were able to identify the three suspects and locate additional victims. The suspects were identified as 23-year-old Hussein Farah, 19-year-old Abdihakiin Hassan and a 16-year-old male.
One victim explained how the scam worked: “He made a story about his parents going through a tough time, he needed somewhere to deposit his check from working. So he asked for my bank account, mobile password and my PIN. Then he said he needed my card to go physically put the money in my account. Based off his sad story, I gave him my card and PIN number. He put the fake $3,000 money order in my account. Since it wasn’t an actual check, it was a money order, it didn’t need the three to five business days to be cleared. The next day, he went and took all the money out. We noticed my account was $3,000 negative. I knew I was in really, really big trouble with my dad, that would be money I would have to repay.”
Investigators say this type of scam is becoming more common and has been reported in other parts of the metro area.
“Typically it’s just a variation of the same old scam. Anytime somebody wants to put a check into your account and have them send money or give them back money, it’s a scam. That’s all there is too it. These people specifically went out and targeted younger people to rip them off. And they are taking advantage of them. They were tricked into giving up their personal information, but now they are being held financially responsible. That’s a hard hit on them and the family," Sgt. Daniel Courtenay said.
The suspects are accused of purchasing a money order for a low amount, using Wite-Out to erase the amount, then writing in a fake amount of $3,000-$4,000.
“It takes a few days before anyone sees that check and realizes it’s a forgery. That’s how they get away with it: they’re cleaning out the money," Courtenay said.
And banks are holding the victims financially accountable. Courtenay wants parents to be aware and monitor teenagers’ bank accounts.
The Aurora Police Department urges parents to speak with their children because it believes there may be other victims of this scheme. Victims may be hesitant to come forward due to a fear of being criminally charged. However, APD and District Attorney’s Office will review each case and may take the stance, as they did in this case, that these are innocent victims that have been coerced by the suspects into the scheme.
The victim in this case has a warning to other teens: “I kind of felt betrayed because I felt bad for him, pitied him, tried to do him a favor and it backfired on me. Obviously don’t give your bank account, your PIN number away to anybody, if you trust them or not. Just keep in mind, easy money is not good money. It’s never going to be good money. It’s always going to be dirty money.”