Check forger cashes in $1,500

Cashing payroll checks is perfectly normal and permissible in nearly all cases -- except when the check is a total fake and the person did nothing honest to earn the money.

Merced County Sheriff's Department deputies are seeking a man in his late 20s or early 30s on check forgery and identity theft charges.

He has cashed at least two bogus checks drawn on accounts of local businesses at Merced and Atwater grocery stores, with $1,500 in losses at this point, according to Deputy Paul Barile, department spokesman.

The suspected check forger was caught on a surveillance video camera, and the sheriff's deputies are hopeful that someone in the public can help identify him after seeing his picture.

Barile said the checks have a convincing look to them and more business victims are expected as the week-long investigation continues.

Barile said the forger is a white male adult with a thin build and dark, short hair.

He has a small goatee and facial hair just below his lower lip.

Those who recognize the man are asked to call the department's anonymous tipline at 209-385-7616, Barile said.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.