GILES COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Giles County law officers have spent the better part of the last two weeks working a multi-county, multi-state fraud operation that employs the homeless to cash fake checks and pass phony money.
Investigators said victims from Giles to Marshall to Maury to Rutherford to Davidson to Montgomery County are out more than $50,000.
For the last two weeks, Giles County Lt. Shane Hunter has been working to piece this complex crime together.
Hunter called it an “organized crime syndicate” that is based in Colorado, rented cars in Atlanta and then employed the homeless in Nashville to commit crimes.
This scam is known around the country as “Operation Homeless.”
Hunter said, so far, more than $50,000 dollars has been swindled from Middle Tennesseans.
According to Hunter at least four Nashville homeless people have been used in this operation. One of the women is yet to be identified.
“You can see this young female passing counterfeit $100 bills at a local truck stop,” Hunter said.
Another homeless man is also unidentified, but he is known on the street as ‘Wizard.’
Hunter said the homeless are chosen specifically for this role.
“They are expendable,” he explained. “They make sure they have an ID, and then they don’t care if they are arrested or not for these charges.”
According to investigators, one of the homeless men used in this scam was Daniel Adams, of Nashville. According to Hunter, Adams is a registered sex offender who has an ID.
There is a video that shows him cashing two bogus checks at a local Giles County bank. The two transactions costing more than $5,000.
Hunter showed News 2 surveillance footage of the 38 year old, later meeting with an unidentified ring leader of this syndicate. He hands over more than $2,000 in cash.
According to Hunter, the other leader of the syndicate is Dejean Dante Washington.
The 31-year-old Colorado man is seen multiple times on surveillance tape in various Nashville stores. Each time he is with an unidentified woman, also part of the syndicate.
“Washington has over 100 pages of criminal history,” Hunter said. “He’s been arrested in eight states. He has warrants for forgery out of North Dakota but they will not extradite.”
On July 17, detectives set up a sting at this motel and arrested Washington and Nashville homeless man, Charles Slaughter.
“I would have never done that. It’s because they offered me a job,” Slaughter said from jail.
The 61-year-old homeless man is currently in the Giles County jail, accused of cashing a phony check for the crime syndicate.
“They said I could have a job in construction and clean up, and they bought me something to eat at McDonalds,” Slaughter told police.
According to Slaughter, the group approached him earlier this month at the McDonalds on Broadway in Nashville.
“They said, ‘you’ll work for my aunt,’and I said ‘okay, where?'” Slaughter explained. “And he said, ‘we are going to take a trip to go meet her.'”
On his way to the bank in rural Giles County, Slaughter took this video of the people he was riding with in a rented Jeep.
“I don’t know. I think God told me to do it,” he said. “I was suspicious.”
Detectives believe he was nervous and feared for his life.
In the video, detectives say you can see Dejean Dante Washington seated in the front seat. The woman in the back seat is not yet identified, but she shows up in many surveillance pictures with Washington.
Slaughter says he only cashed one check for $1,853 before law officers arrested him and Washington.
“I feel very bad,” he said. “I would have never done that.”
Detectives told News 2 they are still trying to identify the other leader of the group, a heavyset man wearing the baseball hat and a white t-shirt, posing next to a 2019 Nissan Altima with the Colorado tags.
Authorities are also looking for three homeless people who were hired by the gang to pass fake money or cash fraudulent checks.
“You need to clean up your life and don’t do this to the homeless, it is not right,” Slaughter said, speaking to the gang members.
News 2 has learned that federal law enforcement agencies are looking at possibly adopting this case.
Dejean Washington is in jail on 15 counts, including 10 counts of forgery.
If you have any information in this case you are urged to contact the Giles County Sheriff’s Dept.