Some 350 people may have been involved in the $5.2 million check cashing fraud involving the S.C. Department of Social Services, the U.S. Attorney’s office says.
Acting U.S. Attorney for South Carolina Kevin McDonald made that announcement Monday in a press release stating that Sheria Devette English, 25, of Columbia, had pleaded guilty to theft of federal program funds in the alleged DSS scheme. She will be sentenced at a later date and could get up to 10 years in prison.
She admitted to cashing three DSS checks procured by fraud, McDonald said.
The scheme reached to the top of DSS, where former DSS finance director Paul Moore authorized the fraudulent issuance of some 750 DSS checks from 2004 to 2008. Moore pleaded guilty to charges connected to embezzlement last October, is cooperating with the government and is awaiting sentencing.
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The checks, which averaged $7,000 each, were made payable to names provided by a co-conspirator, who also recruited the people to cash the checks and split the proceeds, McDonald said.
Moore found people willing to cash his fraudulent these checks and then return a portion of the money to him. He also began giving checks to people that he had relationships with., McDonald said.
To date, 60 people have been charged in the scheme. McDonald said he expects additional arrests among the 350 people who were part of the scheme.
"I would strongly encourage anyone involved to come forward; it would certainly be in their best interest." McDonald said.Persons with information can call the local Secret Service number at (803) 772-4015.
(Reach Monk at 803-771-8344.)