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Deli owner in Delray uses sophisticated computer setup to
identify counterfeit checks

By Jerome Burdi
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

September 14, 2006


Delray Beach · For those who dare to cash fraudulent checks in Tony's Market & Deli, the immediate future is usually not that bright.

The store, across from the police station on Atlantic Avenue, is a hot spot for crooks trying to get away with undeserved cash, police said. This is
despite owner Tony Hamdan's sophisticated computer system that holds copies of each casher's thumb print, photo identification and check. He
also checks with the bank or company that issues the check to ensure he won't get beat by a thief, he said.

"If you come to our store with a counterfeit check, you're going to get caught," Hamdan said. "We've been at this so long, we're so efficient it takes
[moments] to verify the check is fraud and have the police show up."

Of the 13 attempts this year in Tony's Market, eight arrests have been made, according to police records. There have been 40 other emergency
calls for in-progress check fraud throughout the city this year, police said.

The popular deli has been open about two years in its current location and was in another nearby location for about 15 years.

Sometimes the suspects go quietly like Latoya Scott, 27, arrested Sept. 8, the day she tried to cash a fake $600 check, police said. Scott was a
longtime check customer of Hamdan's, he said.

Most times, the thieves don't even know their check, cashed at a 1 percent charge, is being verified until the police show up to arrest them, Hamdan
said. "She didn't know what hit her," he said.

Then there are those who won't leave without a fight, like Ronald Dorcin, 30, arrested Aug. 29. When Hamdan discovered Dorcin's $810 United
Bank of Missouri check was fake, he called police. When police arrived, Dorcin was fighting with Hamdan, which included a bite to his hand, to try to
get back the check, police said.

Detective Casey Thume said the technology Hamdan uses is a huge step above procedures at other check-cashing stores in the city, where many
just write a driver's license number on the check.

"He's got an easy way to identify the perpetrator," Thume said. "You have a lot of ways to prove your case."

The crooks realize they are going through the process but don't seem to care.

"They're after the money," Thume said. "There's no way to explain it. It's just greed."

Jerome Burdi can be reached at jjburdi@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6531.


Copyright © 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel