Criminals targeting homeless people desperate for help

Tyler Young (Photo: WTHR/Rich VanWyk)
Check cashing scheme
Check cashing scheme

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WTHR) - It appears as if criminals are preying upon homeless people who are desperate for money and food.

Two men behind an apparent check-cashing scheme got way. A homeless man caught holding a bad check in Johnson County is in jail.

“I needed the money,” Tyler Young said from jail.

Young said he was homeless, hungry and broke when two men offered him cash to cash some checks. He was caught, the alleged suspects got away.

On February 26, Young was captured on a on security camera walking out of the bank with more than $3,300 after cashing a check written out to him by the Town of Princes Lakes.

A bank's security camera shows Tyler Young cashing a check. (WTHR photo)

“I knew there was something fishy about it but like I said, I was homeless,” Young explained. “I was hungry. I wanted something to eat.”

The 26-year old is getting three meals a day at the Johnson County Jail.

“They said I would be getting couple of hundred dollars...$300-$400 for each check I cashed,” he said.

According to Young, on February 26, the two men picked up him and another homeless man outside an Indianapolis shelter. They borrowed his identification and a short time later handed him checks neatly printed with his name on them.

“I think they are experienced and do this regularly,” Franklin Police Det. Lt. Scott Summers said.

After one bank refused to cash this stolen check, the men dropped Young off at Franklin Mutual Savings Bank. The teller processed the check, counted out the money while Young considered making a break for it.

“It was crazy,” he said. “I didn’t think it was going to work. I was debating catching the bus back to my fiancée and getting us something to eat and place to stay.”

Instead, he walked out and gave all the money to one of the men.

At another Mutual Savings Bank in Trafalgar, a teller became suspicious and called the cops.

“He fled from the bank, but was caught outside,” Summers said. And the two guys outside? “They were gone. They didn’t stick around. They were gone.”

Young doesn’t call himself a victim, but believes he and other homeless men are being taken advantage of.

“Getting arrested going to jail for something that could have been avoided,” he said.

The calculated coldness of the scheme disturbed Summers.

“They are preying on people. They offer them a quick buck to go in and commit these crimes and these guys leave them hanging,” he said.

Young is charged with theft and check deception. If convicted, he could be imprisoned for years.

Filed under: