A Statesboro woman defrauded a local auto dealership with tales of riches, paying for four new vehicles with personal checks - all of which were no good, said Bulloch County sheriff's Chief Deputy Jared Akins.
Barbara Shannette Chest, 49, of Westbrooke Drive, was jailed Saturday on charges of felony theft by deception and obstruction, but more charges are pending, he said. Investigators later learned Chest "was found to be wanted out of Laurens County, Georgia, for theft by deception, and to have a multistate criminal history of fraud."
Friday, a Metter Ford representative made a visit to the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office to report that Chest had bought a 2016 Ford Expedition, a 2015 Cadillac SRX, a 2016 Ford F-250 and a 2016 Ford F-350, all paid with personal checks.
Sheriff's incident reports state Chest had dealership employees call a man who she said was her accountant to verify that she had sufficient funds, and she showed them a letter "purported to be from the Bank of America" that verified her claims, Akins said.
It is yet unclear whether the alleged accountant is a victim of Chest's deception or a partner in the scam, he said.
When the checks were eventually returned by the bank due to insufficient funds in the account, the Metter Ford representative sought assistance from the sheriff's department to recover the vehicles.
"Deputies responded to Westbrook Condos off Brannen Drive and located a 2016 Ford Expedition at the location," he said. "Deputies attempted to make contact with Chest (and) heard movement in the apartment but could get no one to come to the door."
Investigator John Quattlebaum arrived on scene and "developed probable cause to obtain a search warrant for the apartment," Akins said. When they served the warrant, deputies located Chest as well as a bicycle recently reported stolen from a Highway 301 South victim, he said.
The Expedition was turned over to personnel from the dealership, but the other three vehicles had been "given" to others, Akins said. All three were recovered by deputies and returned to the dealership.
Deputies also recovered a Polaris Ranger "fraudulently purchased by Chest from Statesboro Powersports," Akins said. "In total, nearly $250,000 worth of property was recovered by deputies and returned to the rightful owners."
Chest was transported to the Bulloch County Jail, where she remains without bond. She is charged with several counts of felony theft by deception, with other charges pending further investigation, Akins said.
Anyone with information on this case should contact Quattlebaum at (912) 764-1785.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.