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Santa Monica Sex Offender Arrested in Thousand Oaks for Check Forging Scam

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

September 26, 2019 -- A registered sex offender living in Santa Monica was arrested last week for running a check forging scam in Thousand Oaks that claimed eight young victims, police said.

Davante Bell, 25, was arrested September 19 and booked on several counts of identity theft, unauthorized computer access with fraud and forgery, according to investigators in the Ventura County city.

Davante Bell
Photo courtesy Thousand Oaks PD

The investigation stemmed from reports by several teenage victims who believed they were "cashing checks as a favor for a family member of a friend they followed on Instagram," police said.

During a followup investigation, financial crimes detectives uncovered an "elaborate scheme" that used the social media platform to rob the victims -- who ranged in age from 16 to 21 -- of an average of $1,000 each, said Det. Tim Lohman.

"Bell used his Instagram account to engage victims with the intent to obtain access" to their accounts, investigators said.

Once he took control of the accounts, Bell posed as the account holder and used the accounts to send direct messages requesting the victims' help cashing a check, investigators said.

After they agreed, Bell would ask the victims for their cell phone numbers and tell them the account holder’s brother-in-law would meet them at the bank with the checks, police said.

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Bell would then "pose as the fictitious brother-in-law and provide the victims with fraudulently obtained checks that he then forged before giving them to the victims to cash at their bank."

The victims cashed the checks and gave the funds to Bell, who then drove away, police said.

"In the days following the fraudulent deposit, the victims learned that they had suffered a financial loss," detectives said.

Police have identified eight victims so far including four juveniles -- a 16-year-old girl and a 17-year-old girl from Thousand Oaks and two 17-year-old boys from the city.

The adult victims are a 19-year-old man from Thousand Oaks, a 19-year-old woman from Los Angeles, a 21-year-old woman from Azuza and a 20-year-old man from West Covina.

Any additional victims should call Detective Paul Ferruzza at 805-494-8231.

Bell is being held in the East County Jail on $250,000 bail, police said.

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