Santa Monica Man Used Instagram to Find Victims in Check-Cashing Scam, Investigators Say

A Santa Monica man was arrested in connection with a scam in which he allegedly used Instagram to get multiple victims, most of them teens, to cash forged checks for him, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said.

Davante Bell is seen in this booking photo on Sept. 25, 2019 from the Thousand Oaks Police Department.

Davante Bell is seen in this booking photo on Sept. 25, 2019 from the Thousand Oaks Police Department.

Davante Bell, 25, was arrested on Sept. 19 and booked on suspicion of several counts of identity theft, unauthorized computer access with fraud, and forgery.

Investigators said Bell scammed at least eight victims, all between the ages of 16 and 21, in August by contacting them on Instagram. First, Bell would contact Instagram users and figure out a way to take control of their account. He would then use that account to contact friends, asking them for help with cashing a check for him as a favor.

He told his victims that the account holder’s brother-in-law would meet them at the bank with the checks, police said. The “brother-in-law” was actually Bell.

Police said Bell then met his victims at their banks with forged checks and had them cash the checks.

Once they cashed the checks, they gave the money to Bell, who then drove away, police said. The victims learned in the following days that the checks were fraudulent and suffered a financial loss.

Detectives identified Bell, who they said is a registered sex offender, as the suspect and arrested him on Sept. 19.

Bell remains in custody on $250,000 bail.

Correction: An earlier version of this story identified the investigating agency as the Thousand Oaks Police Department. It was actually the Thousand Oaks Police Department Investigations Bureau, which is contracted to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

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