LA PORTE COUNTY, Indiana – A fraud scam involving employees at a Hardee’s fast food restaurant in Indiana and inmates at La Porte County Jail has been uncovered and several arrests have been made, according to authorities.
A commander and other employees at the lockup facility noticed last month that large sums of money had been funneled from sources outside the jail into the inmates’ communication system, called Securus accounts. Once the money was in the accounts, inmates were then allowed to post bond and get released from custody. Moreover, they used the remaining funds in their Securus accounts to load onto a jail-issued debit card, according to an investigation conducted by the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office.
“The investigation uncovered a complex fraudulent scheme,” the sheriff’s office told Fox News Digital. “Essentially, the La Porte County Jail and Securus were utilized by the arrestees to launder fraudulent monies – dirty money was deposited into the system and clean money eventually came out on the backside.”
Capt. Andy Hynek, chief of detectives, launched a criminal investigation and discovered a network of fraudsters that included workers at a Hardee’s restaurant in Michigan City, the sheriff’s office confirmed.
Although the agency did not release the address of the Hardee’s restaurant, there is only one location in Michigan City on Franklin Street, according to the news outlet.
In August and September, “a few” Hardee’s employees involved in the scheme reportedly photographed drive-thru customers’ debit and credit cards, detectives discovered.
The accounts were then fraudulently accessed in order to deposit funds into the Securus accounts for inmates with “low bond amounts,” authorities said. The inmates on the receiving end of the funds would then bond out of jail “almost immediately” after acquiring the monies, according to investigators.
“After leaving the jail, the former inmates were transported to area ATMs where the remaining balance on the jail issued debit card was withdrawn,” the sheriff’s office said. The agency noted that issuing debit cards following a release from jail is “normal procedure.”
According to the sheriff’s investigation, the fraudulent charges totaled $14,700, reported Fox News.
“The victims, who originally went to purchase food at the drive-thru of the Hardee’s, are working with their financial institutions to have the funds returned to them,” law enforcement authorities confirmed.
Ten people were involved in the plot. The sheriff’s office identified each suspect and arrest warrants were issued for:
- Darrien R. Ward for fraud and criminal organizational activity;
- Prince C. Arnold for fraud and criminal organizational activity;
- Kristin R. Vanschoyck for fraud and criminal organizational activity;
- Madison M. Zuk for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity;
- Anisa C. Higginbotham for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity;
- Hollie D. Lachapelle for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity;
- Carissa A. Bealor for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity;
- Lawrence Armstrong for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity;
- Moesha Monique Savanna Payne for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity;
- Dylnn V. Scott for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity.
The Warrants Division and Fugitive Apprehension Street Team, along with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force, arrested four of the suspects, while five other wanted persons were also taken into custody. Dylnn V. Scott was identified as the only suspect who has not yet been arrested, officials said.
“We are very fortunate Captain Hahn, and the Jail Administration caught the irregularities shortly after they began to occur before more citizens were victimized,” the sheriff’s office told Fox.