Second woman charged in Rock Hill fraud case

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comJune 25, 2013 

— Together with a Rock Hill woman who police allege befriended people and then deposited fake checks into their bank accounts, Torrisha Johnson helped defraud a bank of more than $700, authorities say.

Police arrested Johnson, 18, last week and charged her with criminal conspiracy and federal chartered financial institution crime. On Saturday, she was booked into the York County Detention Center where she remains on a $20,000 bond.

Two weeks ago, police arrested Vanessa Matthews, 23, and charged her with seven counts of federal chartered financial institution crime, four counts of forgery and two counts of criminal conspiracy.

Authorities said Matthews befriended about eight or nine people before asking to use their ATM cards to deposit checks into their accounts, and then instantly withdraw the money, Rock Hill Police Executive Officer Mark Bollinger said.

The people agreed, Bollinger said, and gave Matthews their bank cards and personal identification numbers. Matthews placed fraudulent checks into their accounts, Bollinger said, then withdrew the maximum amount of money the ATM would allow her to take.

Matthews also is accused of using one woman’s credit card number to order $25 worth of food from Pizza Hut on North Cherry Road, according to an arrest warrant.

Detectives began receiving complaints about Matthews and realized they were investigating the same suspect, Bollinger said.

Police are still trying to determine if others might be involved, but, according to arrest warrants, they received a statement from her co-defendant about the crimes.

That co-defendant has been identified as Johnson, who police say opened an account at Family Trust Federal Credit Union and allowed Matthews to deposit four forged checks into the account last month, according to an arrest warrant.

Matthews then withdrew a total $702.25 from the account, the warrant states.

Police have made no other arrests in connection with the scheme, but they are still investigating possible suspects, Bollinger said. Matthews remains in jail on a $180,000 bond.

Two days after Matthews’ arrest, police were called to her Railroad Avenue house after a man, 22, reported that he returned home to find a burgundy Ford Focus on fire.

He called firefighters with the Rock Hill Fire Department, who extinguished the flames, the report states. Police were unable to gather a VIN number from the car because the plate and panels were either burned or scratched off before the car was engulfed in flames.

A fire investigator arrived on scene, police say, and determined that an accelerant had been used to set the flames, indicating possible arson.

Police are treating the fire as suspicious and are still investigating, Bollinger said. It’s unclear if the blaze might be related to Matthews’ arrest.

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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