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Cops: Scam artist stole 30K from banks

Major Crimes Unit investigators say a 21-year-old man and two accomplices scammed TruMark Bank -- and numerous unsuspecting people -- out of $30,000.

Tell you what: Raymond Starr had a helluva scam going for a little while there.

Members of the Philadelphia Police Department's Major Crimes Unit started following his trail in April, when they were tipped off to an apparent bank fraud scheme that the 21-year-old was allegedly running.

Capt. Roland Lee, the unit's commander, said at a news conference this morning that the scam worked like this: Starr would approach an unsuspecting person -- usually a young adult on a college campus, or on South Street -- and claim that he needed to cash a check, but didn't have a checking account of his own.

Starr allegedly convinced his victims to deposit his phony check into their accounts, and then share with him their account information -- in return for a piece of the money. Starr would then withdraw money from the accounts before his phony check bounced.

While the scam sounds fairly transparent, Starr managed to pull it off enough times to defraud TruMark Financial Credit Union of at least $30,000, Lee said.

"I know [the final figure] is going to be much higher than that," he said.

Starr and two accomplices were arrested this morning at an apartment on Roosevelt Boulevard near Bleigh Avenue and charged with theft by unlawful taking, criminal conspiracy and related offenses.

Investigators searched the apartment and found handguns, bottles of Xanax and Oxycodone, cash and phony prescription slips, all of which were splayed out on a table like Christmas presents during the news conference  at the 16th District's headquarters on Lancaster Avenue near 39th Street.

Starr was already wanted for assaulting two police officers in Upper Southampton in October. He's no stranger to police in Philly. According to court records, Starr pleaded guilty in 2012 to possessing a firearm, and was sentenced to three years' probation and 11 to 23 months in prison. He had two other arrests on assault charges.

Lee said other people who believe they were victimized by Starr can contact Major Crimes investigators at 215-686-3396.

- David Gambacorta