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Three facing charges in alleged check cashing scheme in Bozeman

Posted at 10:03 AM, Jan 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-30 12:03:06-05

BOZEMAN — Monday morning, three people were charged in Bozeman with theft after being caught on Jan. 24 trying to cash a stolen check in the amount of $949,390.

Brian Anderson, an IRS special agent, contacted Bozeman Police about an ongoing criminal scheme, confirming a man entered the Valley Credit Union Branch in Bozeman and presented newly formed business documents in attempt to open an account for Valic Retirement Services company under the fake name, "Shawn Duffy”.

The bank was aware of the ongoing fraudulent scheme that involves suspects opening business accounts and depositing stolen U.S. Treasury checks.

Likely stolen in the mail, these are typically refund checks to businesses in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The suspects use the business name on the check, go to other states such as Montana, and file documents to open a business.

Anderson explained to police that this is a scheme that has been happening across the country; the loss in Montana alone adds up to millions of dollars.

Because the bank had knowledge of this scheme, they took note that the id Duffy used appeared fake and did not open the account.

On Jan. 26, Bozeman PD contacted the man going by Duffy who was then identified as 26-year-old Las Vegas resident, Lorenzo Botello. Detectives learned that Botello had a fake id, social security card, utility bill, and documents from the Montana secretary of state, all under the name of Shawn Duffy or Valic Retirement Services Company. Botello was arrested and taken to the Gallatin County Detention Center where he was held on charges of forgery and attempted theft.

Botello had flown into Bozeman on Tuesday, Jan. 23 and was staying at the La Quinta Inn with two other people. Bozeman Police Detective Ahmann investigated the room and discovered 25 year old Ariel Compean, another Las Vegas residant, as well as 23-year-old Dyonte Scott of Chicago, IL.

Detective Ahmann stated when he told Scott he was going to be arrested, Scott picked up a U.S. Treasury check and began ripping it up. Detective Ahmann took photos of the destroyed check and was able to see it was written in the name of Valic Retirement Services company for $949,390. Both Compean and Scott were arrested and taken to the Gallatin County Detention Center where they were held without bond.

All three suspects appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court on Monday, and bail was set at $250,000 each. Botello, Compean, and Scott currently remain in custody at the detention center.