You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 23, 2018

Man Sentenced for Recruiting Homeless to Cash Counterfeit Checks

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – An Atlanta man was sentenced today to 116 months in prison for recruiting individuals from local homeless shelters to cash counterfeit business checks worth nearly $105,000.

According to court documents, David Mero, 58, traveled from Georgia to Virginia and other states on at least three occasions between September 2015 and June 2016, and recruited at least six homeless individuals to cash at least 40 counterfeit business checks. Mero and his conspirators compromised these accounts by stealing the account holders’ mail from local business parks, then lured homeless individuals into the scheme by offering to hire them as day laborers for construction jobs. After transporting these homeless great distances from shelters to which they were required to return, Mero told them they would be cashing checks instead of performing the work initially offered. Mero obtained their identifying information and sent it to other conspirators, who used the information to make the counterfeit checks payable to the homeless recruits. Mero gave checks to the homeless and directed to cash them at nearby banks before returning them to their shelters. On at least one occasion, Mero held a homeless recruit at gunpoint after he refused to cash checks in furtherance of the scheme. Faced with threats to both himself and his family, the homeless man attempted to cash four counterfeit check at Mero’s direction. Mero was arrested in Texas in June 2016 while engaged in this activity. He was previously prosecuted in 2009 in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina for conspiring to carry out this same scheme. 

Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Robert B. Wemyss, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Michael C. Grinstead, Acting Chief of Newport News Police, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kaitlin C. Gratton prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:17-cr-13.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated April 23, 2018