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      12 arrests made in check forgery bust, 11 suspects still wanted

      Eight companies are victims and investigators say the group received almost $12,000 since the ring began last December.

      RICHLAND COUNTY (WACH) - A major check forgery bust involving several businesses in Richland Counted has resulted in twelve arrests.

      Authorities are looking for eleven other suspects who allegedly stole account numbers from businesses and cashed fake checks.

      "It's a crime that really doesn't get that much attention from the public or law enforcement until you're a victim," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

      Lott announced the arrests Friday and says it's a disturbing trend.

      "Gang members, all kind of rings that maybe had done other things in the past, now are going to forgery, identity theft. They see that there is a lot of money to be made in it," said Lott. "Businesses and companies, they have their identities stolen also. They'll have their checking account numbers compromised and someone will go and start printing checks."

      According to investigators, the suspects made fake checks, recruiting business employees to hand over bank account numbers, found other suspects to cash newly made checks, and split the money.

      Eight companies are victims and investigators say the group received almost $12,000 since the ring began last December.

      Authorities say their first break in the case was in early January when four suspects were arrested for cashing checks belonging to Star Music Company.

      Lott says businesses must do their part to help.

      "Keep close eyes on their accounts. If they see checks that they did not write, that look abnormal, they need to notify law enforcement immediately. There's a lot of them. We're going to go after every single one of them," said Lott.

      The Richland County Sheriff's Department asks anyone with additional information to contact CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.