Two arrested on identity theft, forgery charges

Published 3:39 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Brewton woman and an Excel woman have been arrested recently in separate cases on charges ranging from identity theft to forgery.

Christan Leggitte, 25, of Excel was arrested last week and charged with two counts of identity theft that solved a mystery for two victims.

Brewton Police Sgt. Steven Ferguson said the case began with an investigation into suspicious activity on two local bank accounts in late September.

“We got a call from a local business about unexplained transactions on their bank statement,” Ferguson said. “As we began investigating that case, we were contacted by an individual who had some of the same issues with their bank account. At the time, we had no idea the two incidents were related.”

Ferguson said the investigation into the complaint made by the business revealed that checking account information had been used to make transactions that appeared to be on personal accounts and not that of the business.

“It appeared that the transactions had nothing to do with the business,” Ferguson said. “From the information we were able to gather, we were able to get Christan Leggitte’s name as a suspect.”

Ferguson said as they continued to investigate the second complaint, information was obtained from the victim’s bank account that lead them to a local business.

“We discovered that the transaction in question by the second victim was made at Southern Pine Electric Cooperative,” Ferguson said. “Through the investigation, we were able to find a name and an address for a suspect in that case. That information lead us to Christan Leggittee again.”

Ferguson said officers went to Leggittee’s home in Excel but were unable to make contact with her at that time.

“We talked to some people in the area who were familiar with her,” Ferguson said. “We had someone tell us where she was working in Brewton at the AT&T store.”

From that information, officers were able to make a connection in the two cases and were able to arrest Leggittee on the charges in both cases.

“The management and staff at AT&T were very helpful and cooperative during our investigation in this case,” Ferguson said. “We were able to determine that the suspect had been able to gain banking account information for the business and the individual through customer records at the AT&T store. From that information she was able to make the transactions that lead to her arrest.”

In an unrelated case, Brewton Police have arrested a local woman on multiple forgery charges.

Shanequa Lewis, 18, was charged with two counts of forgery and two counts of theft in connection with the receiving and cashing of Social Security benefits intended for someone else.

Ferguson said the investigation began in mid-October when the victim made a report that her benefits check had not been received.

“She said she had missed two checks and had contacted the Social Security Administration to see what the problem was,” Ferguson said. “She reported to us that officials with Social Security had told her the checks had been issued and had been mailed to her new address. The victim said she didn’t have a new address. It was then she suspected the checks had been intercepted.”

As officers were conducted an investigation into the complaint, management at Pic-N-Save related information of concern regarding check cashing.

“They told us they really didn’t think much about it the first time it happened,” Ferguson said. “But they were concerned when the same person presented a Social Security check the second time. When we reviewed the information, we discovered the checks in question at the grocery store, it matched the name of the person who had made the report.”

Ferguson said officers made contact with Lewis and she confessed to taking the checks. She was charged with forgery and theft in each of the two incidents.

“We want to remind people to be cautious about these kinds of things,” Ferguson said. “Small things can give thieves an opportunity to take advantage of innocent people. Identity theft is hard to solve and does a lot of damage to the victim. We want to remind people to safeguard their personal information, including mail in their mailboxes. It only takes a moment for a thief to cause a lot of damage.”