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Duluth police, feds break up check forgery ring

Officers from the Duluth Police Department and federal agencies arrested five people Wednesday for allegedly passing forged checks at local banks and business, defrauding them of more than $80,000.

Officers from the Duluth Police Department and federal agencies arrested five people Wednesday for allegedly passing forged checks at local banks and business, defrauding them of more than $80,000.

A federal grand jury in Minneapolis indicted the five on Sept. 18. Charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud were: Aaron Samuel Traiforos, 23, Duluth; Angelika Sophia Traiforos, 27, Duluth; Doreen Elaine Traiforos, 48, Duluth; Dandre Ladae Robinson, 21, unknown address; and David Briant Thompson, 38, Duluth. Angelika Traiforos was also charged with one count of aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, from November 2003 through January 2006:

* The defendants obtained information about a victim and opened a checking account using false identification in that victim's name. They allegedly obtained bank checks, which were then used to obtain money and merchandise. During the time period of the conspiracy, the defendants negotiated more than $80,000 in forged checks.

* Angelika Traiforos allegedly recruited individuals to use their true names to act as "check passers," who would then cash the forged checks at financial institutions and businesses throughout the Duluth area. Angelika Traiforos allegedly obtained the victim's Social Security card and birth certificate in November 2003, and acting as the victim she used those documents to obtain a Wisconsin identification card.

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* In December 2005, Angelika Traiforos, posing as the victim, allegedly opened a checking account at a Duluth bank, and ordered blank checks using the victim's name.

"This was a pretty organized and sophisticated operation they had going," Duluth Police Lt. Daniel Chicos said. "The officers put a lot of time and energy to make this case happen."

Robinson's and Thompson's home towns were not immediately available.

The arrests culminated a two-year, multi-jurisdictional bank fraud investigation. According to the Duluth Police Department, the department's Financial Crimes Unit/Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force, Property Crimes and Special Investigations Unit, Patrol and Community Policing divisions, and the U.S. Postal Service, Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Social Security were involved in the arrests.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Minnesota division.

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