ST. GEORGE — A suspect was arrested earlier this week on multiple felony charges and alleged check fraud involving several business checks totaling thousands of dollars.

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On Tuesday, 35-year-old Jake Riley Wilson was arrested shortly before midnight and booked into jail for one second-degree felony count of theft and five counts of forgery, each a third-degree felony.

The arrest stems from a months-long investigation by St. George police into a report of possible check fraud that was received in August.

The reporting party stated that five checks were written to a company totaling more than $5,000 from the complainant’s business account over a two-month period starting in May, according to charging documents filed with the court.

Shortly thereafter, they were notified by the owner of the receiving company that they had not received any of the checks. A review of the business account revealed that each of the five checks had already cleared the bank, and upon further inspection, the reporting party noticed that all five checks were endorsed by Wilson.

The complainant completed an affidavit of fraudulent activity with the bank, which is when they learned the checks were deposited into a personal checking account in St. George. 

When officers subpoenaed the account records, they discovered the account belonged to Wilson, who reportedly deposited the checks using a mobile application. 

Detectives reached out to the suspect by phone, who reportedly told them “he had received the checks from an individual he did not know,” as noted in the report.  

When detectives inquired further, the suspect said the only information he had was the man’s first name, which he said was “Mario.”

Wilson also told officers he had accepted the checks and then deposited the drafts into his personal account himself. After depositing the first check in July, the suspect said he waited a day to make sure the draft cleared, and once it went through, Wilson said he deposited four more checks, according to police.

The suspect went on to tell detectives that some time later, he was notified by his credit union that a fraud hold had been placed on the checks.

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When investigators reviewed the account notes made at the time the credit union documented the incident, the story the suspect told the bank was inconsistent with what Wilson had told investigators, leading detectives to determine the suspect was being deceptive with his story “that did not make a lot of sense.”.  

The investigator also noted that Wilson never notified police about the incident. 

While the suspect reportedly admitted that he thought it was strange that “Mario” would pay him with the five checks, Wilson said he had recently left his previous employer and needed the money.

The suspect also told detectives he had no contact information for the man who brokered the job, since the man was also scheduled to work with the suspect but never showed up. Wilson also reportedly told investigators he only knew the man by his first name.

When investigators followed up with the suspect’s previous place of employment, they learned the man who purportedly set up the side job had died in June, more than a month before he was supposed to have set up the job.

On Wednesday,  the suspect was formally charged with the felony offenses and an initial appearance has been scheduled in the case that will take in 5th District Court in St. George. Until then, he remains in custody on $5,000 bail.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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