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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The Richland County Sheriff's Department formalized the Financial Crimes Unit earlier this year.

The goal of the unit is to actively pursue scam artists that prey on and target citizens by stealing their identies and their money.

"Thousands and thousands of dollars are stolen every single day by these scams and by these frauds," Sheriff Leon Lott.

That is the reason why the department created the Financial Crimes Unit, to help fight this type of crime.

Lott said, "We took six of our best investigators and we assigned them to do nothing but work these types of crimes, the frauds, the scams, to make sure someone followed up on these cases, someone tries to recover the money, someone puts the bad guys in jail."

The crime fighting unit is already paying off, Richland County Deputies recently busted a bank fraud and forgery scam involving 23 people.

Lott said, "They were going out and recruiting, homeless people, students who needed money, single mothers who needed money.

"For a couple of hundred dollars they would give them some money and ask them to go in and open an account in the bank, get the ATM card, the checks, and bring them back to us," according to Lott.

Captain Howard Hughes of the Richland County Sheriff's Department Criminal Investigations Division says if someone approaches you with something that sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Captain Hughes said, "It is hard times now, people need money, but there is not utopia out there, there is no free lunch."

According to Lott, 7 of the 23 suspects have been apprehended and 3 of the 4 accused ring leaders have been arrested as well, now they are searching for the remaining 16 suspects to close the case.

Lott said, "This is just one example here you see on the board, this group of 23, there are other groups out there just like this, we are working on it, we are not going to ignore them."

The suspects arrested include:

Terry Daniels charged with three counts of bank fraud and three counts of forgery.

Katrelle Breland charged with three counts of bank fraud.

Rachade Boulware charged with bank fraud and accessory.

Angela Johnson charged with bank fraud and accessory.

Courtney Blair charged with bank fraud and forgery.

Jamesha Coleman charged with bank fraud and forgery.

Dnice Sulton

The Sheriff's Department is still looking for the following suspects:

Jessica Blake

Donovan Jackson

Willie Gilmore

Percy Campbell

Sonja McFarlin

Brittany Gray

Dale Manaiza

Shaquia Scott-Skillern

Gerald Morris

Jamar Moore

Jeremy Robinson

Cory Johnson

Robert Alford Jr.

Makial Lawrence

Chasity Henry

Whitney Green

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott is asking for public assistance in locating the suspects or anyone else that may be connected to this case.

If you recognize anyone or know anything about these crimes, you areasked to contact Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

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