By Maria Rocha-Buschel
An 18-year-old, Lionel Burton, was arrested last Thursday after two fraudulent checks belonging to the Waterside Plaza Tenants Association were deposited into his Bank of America account, the District Attorney’s office said.
The amount of the checks totaled $1,956.50 and once deposited, at the beginning of January, Burton allegedly withdrew $930 from his account. Police said that he later withdrew an additional $505.59 with his ATM card in four separate transactions.
Burton had allegedly provided access to his online banking information to someone that he met on Instagram and he told police that the person he gave his banking information to was known as “Vanilla Bada$$,” but no additional information about this person was available. Police said that after Burton provided his banking information, the fraudulent checks were deposited into his online banking account via cell phone. No information was available about how the checks were deposited into Burton’s banking account or who deposited them.
Waterside Plaza Tenants Association President Janet Handal said that the incident happened after the TA had given out holiday gratuity checks to the Waterside Plaza staff at the end of last year, as they have in the past.
“This is the first year that this has happened,” she said.
Handal said that police told her whoever deposited the checks is associated with Waterside Plaza in some way, because the fraudulent checks that were deposited had the correct account numbers, which means that the person had seen a copy of a valid check from the TA.
“There’s a connection to Waterside somewhere but (the NYPD doesn’t) know where yet,” she said.
Handal added that there had also been an attempt to deposit another fraudulent check for almost $5,000.
“That was the thing that alerted us to the problem,” she noted. “We would have seen the problem anyway but that was our heads up.”
Burton’s Legal Aid attorney didn’t return a call for comment by Town & Village’s deadline.