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Press Release

Atlanta Man Pleads Guilty in Tri-State Check Cashing Scheme Targeting Publix

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

ALBANY, Ga. – An Atlanta resident who pleaded guilty for his role in a check cashing scheme targeting Publix grocery stores in Georgia, Florida and Alabama was remanded to federal custody today.

Brandon Lamont Bell, 37, pleaded guilty to possession of counterfeit and unauthorized devices on June 23. Bell faces a maximum of ten years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Bell was remanded to federal custody at a petition for action on conditions of pretrial release hearing before U.S. District Judge Louis Sands today. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 29.

“Check cashing schemes using stolen bank information is not a minor offense—the harm it causes people and businesses can warrant federal prosecution and will not be ignored by our office,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Our office is working with local, state and federal law enforcement partners to protect people and businesses from fraudsters.”

“This case is another example that clearly shows criminals are continuously looking for ways to steal from financial institutions. In this case, not only were financial institutions defrauded, but United States citizens were violated by having their bank account information stolen for the purpose of committing fraud,” said Clint Bush, Resident Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, Albany, Georgia, Resident Office. “The United States Secret Service, along with our state, local and federal law enforcement partners will continue to investigate, arrest and support the successful prosecution of the criminals who choose to commit this and other types of financial fraud in our community and around the nation.”

According to court documents, Georgia State Patrol (GSP) and Tifton Police Department officers were conducting a road check at the I-75 Northbound Exit 61 ramp (the intersection of Old Omega Road and Magnolia Drive in Tifton). During the course of the encounter with Bell and other occupants of the vehicle, and the subsequent United States Secret Service investigation, agents discovered a check cashing scheme involving Bell and other co-defendants targeting Publix Supermarkets in Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Inside the vehicle, officers found 114 fictious checks printed with nineteen genuine bank account routing numbers, a printer and electric cords, nine counterfeit driver’s licenses and 18 VISA gift cards. Bell admitted that he possessed with the intent to defraud more than fifteen counterfeit and unauthorized access devices.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, GSP and the Tifton Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sonja Profit is prosecuting the case.

Updated June 30, 2022

Financial Fraud