Couple arrested in major mail theft, check cashing scheme across 7 counties

- A Gainesville couple was busted in a major mail theft and check-cashing scheme across 7 counties. Police said what is worse, is they would take their 2-year old daughter with them on their crime spree.

Investigators said over the past several months Amanda Bryant and Benjamin Smith stole mail from homes and businesses looking for checks. According to police, they would then wash the checks in bleach, and fill in their own names, or the names found on a number of IDs they had stolen, or make fake IDs, then cash in at local Walmart stores or other stores that accept checks.

"They buy personal items and a large amount of gift cards because that’s cash money in their pockets," said Oakwood Police Sgt Danny Sridej.

Police finally caught up with them in Hall County where they were living out of a U-Haul. Inside, investigators found stolen checks ranging from $20 to $115,000. Police said they also found a plastic container filled with bleach and a check inside it being washed. To top it off, police said they also found a bible used to dry the checks.

"When they washed the checks, in order for the checks to go back to their original form, they had to put it somewhere to dry it and keep it straight, in this case, they put it in a bible," said Sgt. Sridej.

Investigators estimate hundreds and hundreds of pieces of mail were stolen but at this point, they do not have an exact number because they are still trying to add it up. Police said mail was taken from Alto, Auburn, Ball Ground, Braselton, Clarkesville, Commerce, Cumming, Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Hoschton, Jefferson, Lawrenceville, Mount Airy, Pendergrass, Suwannee, and Winder. Mail was also stolen in Hall, Barrow, Cherokee, Forsyth, Jackson, Gwinnett, and Habersham counties.

The couple is in the Hall County Jail facing a long list of charges.

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