Prosecutor: Scammer enlists Boise homeless to cash forged checks

U.S. District Court in Boise
U.S. District Court in Boise

A Georgia man took two homeless men to lunch, supplied them with construction vests, work boots and cell phones, had them do nominal work and then sent them to several Boise banks to cash thousands of dollars worth of forged checks, federal prosecutors allege.

Nicholas D. Simpson and other unindicted co-conspirators came to Boise on Dec. 21 and stole mail from boxes around town, according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Boise.

That same day, they contacted a homeless man identified in the indictment as “A.B” and after taking him to lunch at a Burger King restaurant convinced him to participate in the scheme.

Simpson and his fellow scammers took A.B. to an abandoned house on River Street, where Simpson directed him to peform work for about a half-hour.

That same day, they took A.B. to a Washington Trust Bank branch on West Overland Road and had him cash a check made out to A.B. and drawn on a business’s account for $2,869. He later cashed a $2,835 check drawn on an individual’s account at a U.S. Bank branch, also on West Overland.

A.B. also tried to cash a check for $2,859 on an individual’s account at a Banner Bank branch on South Kimball Way, but was unsuccessful.

On Dec. 22, they recruited a second homeless man, identified as S.B. They took him to lunch at a Golden Corral restaurant and outfitted him the same as they did A.B..

S.B. was successful in obtaining $17,505 from eight checks made out to him and cashed at various Zions Bank, Banner Bank and US Bank brnaches in Boise and Washington Trust branches in Boise and Meridian. He was unsuccessful in trying to cash another check, written for $1,961, at a Banner Bank branch on West Fairview Avenue in Boise.

Altogether, the thieves collected $23,209. A portion of the money was shared with the two homeless men, who were not charged in the case.

Both men were told Simpson and the others needed the cash to pay other “employees” of the construction company, which did not exist.

Simpson was arrested July 15 in Atlanta and released after posting $10,000 bond . He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Candy Dale in Boise. He is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and 12 counts of bank fraud.

If convicted, Simpson could face up to 30 years in prison on each count.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell