ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — A Pensacola man was charged with bank fraud after allegedly running a bank fraud scheme at the Pen Air ATM on West Garden Street, according to Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies.
Tahier Lamar Harper, 21, was charged with two counts of bank fraud, three counts of uttering a forged instrument, grand theft and two counts of wearing a mask during the commission of felony.
According to deputies, the investigation on March 20, 2022. Deputies said they began working a bank fraud investigation involving “a group of suspects that were obtaining bank account information from account holders to use their accounts to deposit counterfeit checks and money orders.” They said in order for the scheme to work, the suspects would convince the account holders to give them their bank debit cards and PIN numbers. Once they obtained the information, deputies said the counterfeit checks and money orders were deposited into their bank’s ATM.
Once the checks and money orders were deposited, deputies said the maximum amount of money able to be withdrawn from the ATM would be withdrawn. According to the arrest report, the suspects “typically keep the debit card for several days while they continued to withdraw money from the ATMs or continue to deposit counterfeit checks.”
Deputies said for the scheme to work, in every instance, the account holder needed to voluntarily provide their debit card and PIN number, allowing their account to be used.
As part of the investigation, deputies said Pen Air provided deputies with three counterfeit money orders that were deposited into a victim’s account on June 5, 2022, both in the amount of $1,000. According to the arrest report, after the first two money orders were deposited, $420 was withdrawn from the same ATM on W. Garden Street. On June 6, deputies said $1,000 was withdrawn from the Pen Air ATM.
On June 9, 2022, according to the arrest report, all of the money orders were returned to Pen Air as “altered/fictitious,” and resulted in a financial loss to Pen Air of at least $1,420.
Deputies said they reviewed video surveillance, provided by Pen Air, which showed the same person depositing all three counterfeit money orders into the victim’s account on June 5, 2022. According to the arrest report, the suspect depositing the check is a male, wearing black shoes, a cutoff light-colored jean shorts frayed at the end, a black hooded sweatshirt and a black facial mask/head wrap, “in an attempt to conceal their identity.”
Deputies said the money orders were purchased at the Tom Thumb on Pensacola Blvd. They said the money orders were purchased in the amount of $1, and after they were purchased, they were altered in the amount of $1,000. According to the arrest report, when deputies watched the surveillance video at the Tom Thumb, they saw the same male with medium length dreads, wearing the same light-colored cutoff jean shorts as the person that deposited all three money orders.
On Aug. 24, a certified print examiner identified Harper’s fingerprints on all three money orders. Deputies said Harper was arrested on June 25, for a domestic violence battery offense and they watched the video and confirmed the person in the domestic violence video was the same person as the one who purchased the money orders and deposited them into the ATM.
Harper was booked into the Escambia County Jail on a $50,000 bond.