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Man accused of stealing checks from Camp Fire victims

According to the Butte County Sheriff's Office, James Dye is accused of stealing around 40 identities and multiple mortgage payout checks from Camp Fire victims.

Posted: Apr 9, 2019 3:44 AM
Updated: Apr 9, 2019 7:49 AM

OROVILLE, Calif. -- Near the end of February, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) took an identity theft report from an 80-year-old victim in the Oroville area. During this investigation, it was learned there were checks stolen from the victim’s mailbox. Those stolen checks were used to create fake checks using the victim’s account information, and then cashed at an online bank.

Through his investigation, Deputy Vaj Thao was able to identify one of the suspects as James Dye, as the person who was responsible for cashing these fictitious checks. A warrant for identity theft, creating fictitious checks, and petty theft was issued for the arrest of James Dye at that time.

On the 5th of April, the Sheriff’s Office located James Dye driving near the new Walmart in Oroville. James was subsequently arrested for his outstanding warrant. During a search of the vehicle Dye was driving, deputies located more than 40 other potential victims of identity theft including a torn fake check of the original 80-year-old victim’s. Deputies also located numerous printed fake checks, hundreds of blank check pages, copies of checks, bank cards, tax documents, and other personal identifying information belonging to local business as well as businesses from Sacramento, Nevada, and Texas. Also located inside Dye’s vehicle was a laptop computer, a printer, and a scanner, all believed to have been used in the creation of these fictitious checks, and to steal the identity of the victim’s.

James Dye also had mortgage payout checks from Camp Fire victims that he was using the information from, to create other fraudulent checks. Deputies located scanned versions of mortgage payout checks for addresses in the Paradise area in Dye’s vehicle, along with fictitious checks with the victim’s policy numbers, insurance company’s routing numbers, all made out to James Dye.

James Dye was charged with additional crimes of identity theft, identity theft of 10 or more victims, making fictitious checks, forgery, being in possession of stolen property, and being in possession of burglary tools. A bail enhancement was authorized by a Butte County Superior Court Judge, and James’ bail was increased to $531,000.00. James remains in custody at the Butte County Jail.

A second suspect was identified through Deputy Thao’s investigation as Ashley Buck, 28 years of age, from the Biggs and Oroville area. Ashley is currently wanted for questioning by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information pertaining to this case or Ashley’s whereabouts is asked to contact BCSO at 530-538-7321.

The Sheriff’s Office wishes to remind its citizens to be vigilant with their personal identifying information. Something as simple as leaving your mail in your mailbox overnight can give criminals the opportunity to steal your identity. Make sure retailers check your ID when you use your ATM cards, credit cards, or when you write checks. This can help limit the ability for criminals to steal your identity. It only takes minutes to lose hundreds, or thousands of dollars to identity thieves. Should you have your mail stolen, take it seriously; you may have just lost your identity. And lastly, call your local law enforcement to report these crimes of identity theft and theft of mail. Something as simple as having a piece of mail stolen from a mailbox can mean years of frustration and the loss of one’s identity.

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