Dental Office Check Fraud Investigation

January 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A South Valley dental office is at the center of a bogus check investigation that's left several local business owners upset and out thousands of dollars.What started as a small check fraud case in Hanford has grown into a full-blown investigation of a dental office. Police claim it was set up to scam people. Now the people who run Platinum Dental are nowhere to be found.

Ali Talbani, the owner of Harrod's Market is always on the lookout for bogus check-writers. He's even put up what he calls a "wall of shame" outside the store identifying those whose checks have bounced.

That wall may soon grow after a check written by Platinum Dental bounced, costing him over one thousand dollars. "Not happy not at all. These are hard times you know we are struggling to stay in business and these people come and they rip you off that's not good," said Ali Talbani.

Hanford Police said Talbani isn't alone. "It started out as just a bad check case and really ballooned when we realized how many bad checks we had," said Greg Freiner with the Hanford Police Department.

Freiner said "platinum dental" targeted local markets that cash checks. "What they were doing is going to the banks and opening up three or four different accounts under this business name and there was never any money put into the accounts to cover the checks that were written."

Freiner said "Platinum Dental" applied for a state business license but never completed the process. The office was only open on Wednesdays when a dentist traveled down from Fresno.

But on this Wednesday Action News found no dentist at Platinum Dental, and when we called two different numbers to reach the owner we got this message: "This number is not in service"

Talbani said he knew something was wrong when he couldn't get a hold of the woman whose checks bounced. "And again she didn't show up and we were calling her for several times she kept promising she's coming and she never showed up so we called the police."

Police have several suspects in mind. If convicted, they could face years in prison for grand theft.

Police said they've been getting calls from people who've actually had dental work done here. They're asking anyone with information about Platinum Dental to call them immediately.

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