UPDATE: New check-fraud scam targets homeless - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

UPDATE: New check-fraud scam targets homeless

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By: Megan Palera
mpalera@klkntv.com

Lincoln police have arrested 2 more men in connection with a check fraud scam.  One man is already in custody.  Police arrested 49-year-old James Thompson and 46-year-old Phillip Wylie for two counts of forgery.  Police say the two along with Paul Bellew cashed checks at two Lincoln banks.

We've heard of scams that go after the elderly, but this new one targets those down on their luck. It's called "Operation Homeless."

Everyone is on high alert at the People's City Mission. Pastor Tom Barber is worried about the men he shelters after hearing of a new scam that goes after the homeless.

"Generally they don't have a strong economic background. They're struggling financially and they're looking for some way out and so you know, you throw them a rope and they think its for real and they'll grab a hold of it," Barber said.

Transients are recruited to cash high-dollar checks in exchange for money, food and a motel room. The Security First Bank on 48th and Van Dorn is one of the branches where police say Paul Bellew cashed one of those checks.

"Paul and two other men cashed checks at two different bank branches that morning. Those checks were later found two be counterfeit with a total loss to the banks of over $21,000," LPD Officer Katie Flood said.

Bellew faces two counts of felony forgery. Up until his arrest Tuesday, he was staying at the mission in Lincoln. Now Pastor Tom is sharing Bellew's story with others at the shelter, making sure no one else gets caught in the trap sweeping the nation.

"I'm expecting by tomorrow, next day at the latest, there won't be a homeless guy in Lincoln that doesn't know about this scam," Barber said.

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