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Fast-food workers used customers’ money to bail out jail inmates: police

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Fast-food fraudsters at an Indiana Hardee’s secretly stole customers’ debit card information in a scheme to bail inmates out of jail, authorities claim.

A La Porte County jail commander and other employees noticed last month that large sums of money had been funneled from outside the jail into inmates’ communication system accounts, called Securus accounts, from sources outside the jail, according to the sheriff’s office. The inmates then allegedly bonded out of the jail and used the remaining funds in their Securus accounts to load onto a jail-issued debit card. 

“The investigation uncovered a complex fraudulent scheme,” the sheriff’s office told Fox News Digital. “Essentially, the La Porte County Jail and Securus were utilized by the arrestees to launder fraudulent monies – dirty money was deposited into the system and clean money eventually came out on the backside.”  

Chief of Detectives Capt. Andy Hynek initiated a formal investigation and found a network that included workers at a Hardee’s restaurant in Michigan City, the sheriff’s office said.

Authorities said they uncovered a scheme involving “a few” Hardee’s employees, who in August and September of this year allegedly photographed drive-thru customers’ debit and credit cards. The accounts were then fraudulently used to deposit funds into the Securus accounts for inmates with “low bond amounts,” authorities said. The inmates who received the funds would allegedly bond out of jail “almost immediately” after acquiring the funds.

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Booking photos for alleged Hardee's fraud scheme

From left to right, booking photos for Hollie D. Lachapelle, Moesha Monique Savanna Payne and Kristin R. Vanschoyck. (La Porte County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook)

“After leaving the jail, the former inmates were transported to area ATMs where the remaining balance on the jail issued debit card was withdrawn,” the sheriff’s office said, noting that issuing debit cards following a release from jail is “normal procedure.”

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The sheriff’s office found the fraudulent charges totaled $14,700. 

Hardee's restaurant in indiana

A Hardee’s location in Michigan City, Indiana. (Google Maps )

Authorities did not release the address of the Hardee’s restaurant, but there is only one location in Michigan City on Franklin Street.

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Three suspects allegedly involved in Hardee's scheme

From left to right, booking photos for Anisa C. Higginbotham, Prince C. Arnold and Madison M. Zuk. (La Porte County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook)

“The victims, who originally went to purchase food at the drive-thru of the Hardee’s, are working with their financial institutions to have the funds returned to them,” the sheriff’s office said.

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Three booking photos for alleged Hardee's scheme

From left to right, booking photos for Carissa A. Bealor, Lawrence S. Armstrong, and Darrien A. Ward. (La Porte County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook)

The sheriff’s office identified 10 people involved in the scheme and issued arrest warrants for: 

  • Darrien R. Ward for fraud and criminal organizational activity;
  • Prince C. Arnold for fraud and criminal organizational activity; 
  • Kristin R. Vanschoyck for fraud and criminal organizational activity;
  • Madison M. Zuk for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity;
  • Anisa C. Higginbotham for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity;
  • Hollie D. Lachapelle for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity;
  • Carissa A. Bealor for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity;
  • Lawrence Armstrong for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity;
  • Moesha Monique Savanna Payne for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity;
  • Dylnn V. Scott for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal organizational activity.

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indiana booking photo

A previous booking photo for Dylnn V. Scott, who is allegedly involved in a fraud scheme in Indiana. (La Porte County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook)

Authorities said the Warrants Division and Fugitive Apprehension Street Team, along with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force, arrested four of the suspects, while five other suspects were also arrested.

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The sheriff’s office said Scott is the only suspect who has not yet been arrested. Members of the public are asked to come forward if they have any tips on Scott’s whereabouts.

“We are very fortunate Captain Hahn, and the Jail Administration caught the irregularities shortly after they began to occur before more citizens were victimized,” the sheriff’s office told Fox.

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