AUBURN — Officials are searching for two suspects believed to be part of a counterfeit mail fraud ring.
The search comes as several members of the ring were sentenced this week for their part in stealing checks out of rural mailboxes in Placer County, before using the information to create counterfeit checks.
Placer County prosecutor Dan Quick said thousands of dollars were lost by banks and residents in the scheme between February and October 2009.
“We are aware of more than a dozen victims whose account information was used and of probably another dozen stores and banks that were victimized when fraudulent checks were passed,” Quick said.
Five defendants were sentenced in Placer Superior Court Monday, including James Michael Marich, 46, of Auburn. Marich received one year and four months in state prison after pleading out to charges of conspirary, identity theft and burglary.
The other defendants, all Auburn residents, accepted plea agreements and were sentenced to the Placer County jail.
Detectives became aware of the counterfeiters when one of the defendants was caught trying to pass a phony check at a business. Until the remaining suspects are caught, Quick urged citizens to exercise caution when putting up the red flag on their mailboxes.
“You may be telling thieves you’re sending out a check that day,” Quick said. “I’d encourage people to drop their letters in a mailbox at a post office.”