Tempe police on Tuesday arrested seven members of a local "party crew" after a seven-month investigation into a check-cashing scam that cost Tempe banks more than $55,000.
First, you may be asking yourself "what the hell is a 'party crew?'"
Tempe Police Sergeant Steve Carbajal tells New Times that a "party crew" is basically like a bootleg street gang. Other law enforcement officials we've talked to have described "party crews" as the minor leagues of street gangs.
You may recall the "Fluffy Bunny Crew."
This latest crew doesn't have a catchy name like the FBC boys, but the scam they were pulling duped not only their victims, but banks and law enforcement officials, too, for nearly three months.
Carbajal says the crew members would approach an unsuspecting victim and ask him or her to cash a check because they didn't have a bank account.
The victims -- as stupid as it may sound -- would actually take the bait.
The victims would cash the checks using their bank accounts, and before the banks had time to realize that the checks were bogus, the victims would give the cash to a member of the crew and then never see him again
Carbajal says authorities got involved when one victim realized what happened and called police, which prompted the investigation.
According to Carbajal, depending on bank policies, the victims may actually be on the hook for the banks' losses because the accounts used were in the victims' names.
While investigating the crew's Tempe check scam, officers discovered that crew members were also involved in other misdemeanor and felony crimes in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, and Chandler, making them a criminal syndicate per state law.
Arrested in Tuesday's bust were Darnell Lemons, 25, Adrian Compoy, 21, Christopher Roy, 23, Tymothy McCurn, 21, Stevvan Loia, 21 Tony Blue, 20, and Calvin Howard, 21.
Crew members are facing numerous felony charges, including assisting a criminal syndicate and money-laundering.
Tempe Police detectives believe there could be more victims. If you feel that you have been victimized by these individuals or have additional information that may assist investigators, please call the Tempe Police Department at 480-350-8311.