STANLYCOUNTY, N.C. -- A large scale counterfeit check investigation initiated by the Stanly County Sheriff's Office ended with three suspects taken into federal custody.

Reports of check fraud began sporadically in early 2012 in Stanly County, and escalated for several months, prompting the investigation.

Authorities say the suspects were using identifying information to create and print counterfeit checks to complete fraudulent transactions. Investigators determined that one of the suspects was obtaining the victims' information while employed by a food distribution company.

The fake checks primarily ranged from $200 to $400 and were passed to major retailers in the greater Charlotte area, for purchases of goods and gift cards.

Officials say the total fraudulent loss is estimated to exceed $100,000, and to date, there are more than fifty separate victims.

The assistance of the United State Secret Service was obtained by the Stanly County Sheriff's Office. The joint investigation netted a sufficient amount of evidence to charge the three suspects.

Micah Aaron Bolton, of Charlotte, Roger Trent Melchor, of Indian Trail, and Andra Tobias Barnes, of Concord are each charged with bank fraud, conspiracy and aiding and abetting.

The Albemarle Police Department, Granite Quarry Police Department, Rock Hill Police Department, Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office, Gastonia Police Department, Concord Police Department, Union County Sheriff's Office and the Davidson County Sheriff's Office also assisted in the investigation,

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