A Georgia man was sentenced to 16 months in prison after pleading guilty to using homeless men in Maine to cash counterfeit checks on his behalf.

Mantavious Jones, 35, of Atlanta stole checks out of the mailboxes of local businesses and used them to create counterfeit checks, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement Wednesday. The counterfeit checks were made payable to homeless individuals recruited by Jones to cash them.

The scheme netted Jones close to $70,000, the Justice Department said.

Chief U.S. District Judge Jon D. Levy sentenced Jones to serve 16 months in federal prison Wednesday for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Jones will serve three years of supervised release following his sentence.

Jones and an unnamed group of co-conspirators traveled from Georgia to Maine in March 2022, when they recruited homeless men to cash counterfeit checks at six Maine banks and credit unions, court documents state.

Clothing was purchased for the homeless men, who were driven by Jones to the bank and credit union locations. Jones waited outside in a car while the men went inside. If they successfully cashed the checks, the men received a small amount of money in exchange.

Court documents indicate that the scheme was fairly successful. The amounts of the counterfeit checks ranged from $3,921 to $6,957. Judge Levy ordered Jones to pay $69,765 in restitution to the victimized financial institutions.

The New England Cyber Fraud Task Force and Kennebunk Police Department investigated the case with assistance from the Saco and Scarborough police departments.

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