Man charged with forging Milwaukee County Check worth more than $40,000

NOW: Man charged with forging Milwaukee County Check worth more than $40,000

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Detectives are investigating after a Milwaukee County check worth thousands of dollars was stolen and altered. 

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office was alerted to the crime by the county's audit department. 

“The bank alerted our audit division on the fraudulent check after it was deposited into the US bank account," said Milwaukee County Detective Larrel Lirette. 

The check was big, worth $49,487.39 set to go to a company the county had done business with. 

"That check never arrived at the business, it was somehow intercepted," said Lirette. 

Instead, prosecutors say, the check got in the hands of a man named Ricky A. Ford. 

"How they got it, I don't know," said Milwaukee County Treasurer David Cullen, "As I understand it,  the check was mailed to the company and somewhere in that process this person got that check."

Ford allegedly replaced the name of the business on the check with his own. Court records show he was able to deposit the check and get back $5,000. He went back to the bank two more times that day, getting $5,000 each time, before the bank froze the account. 

"It’s concerning to see how easy it can – I mean it was altered into the name of the different person and it was successfully deposited and that person was able to withdraw $15,000 before the bank was able to identify it was a fraudulent check," said Lirette. 

When asked if he had been able to determine how Ford got the check, Lirette said, "That is still an ongoing investigation."

Ford has been charged with forgery in the case. The criminal complaint for those charges states Ford said he got the check by someone named "Money" who was giving him heroin on credit. Ford said "Money" started threatening him and told him he could work off the drug debt by getting money from the Milwaukee County check. When questioned about another $15,000 check in his name, he denied any involvement and blamed "Money" for using his name. 

"There’s investigative leads that we are following up on at the present time to try to obtain more information on identifying additional people that have been doing this," said Lirette. 

"The public should know that one, we’re guarding the taxpayer dollars and if there is someone out there that wants to try this – it probably isn’t going to work," said Cullen. 

Cullen said the county didn't lose any money in the scheme. 

"It was a US Bank check, gone to a US Bank, so they’re on the hook," said Cullen. 

Cullen says the county has been in the process of amping up their check security, working with banks to make sure the check numbers, amount and payee on the check all match what's in the bank's system. 

"I think the message would be to would-be criminals is that this isn’t easy to do, this person tried and got caught pretty quickly, and we’re beefing up the security system to make it even more difficult in the future." said Cullen. 

While Ford was out on bond, he was charged in another case with disorderly conduct, strangulation and suffocation, and bail jumping. 

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