An alleged check-cashing scam performed by a Madera husband-and-wife team bilked at least two local businesses out of more than $75,000, police said this week, and additional victims could still come forward.
On Oct. 31 police served a search warrant on the home of Maria Castillo-Valencia, 28, and arrested her on multiple charges of burglary, making fictitious checks, and grand theft related to a scheme that Madera Police Department detective Alicia Keiser said transpired for at least two months over the summer.
Castillo-Valencia and husband Estevan “Eddie” Valencia-Hernandez, 26, under the business name AG Pro Solutions entered a mini-mart near 900 S. Gateway in June to negotiate cashing checks for farm laborers, Keiser said.
“What happens normally is the grower pays the farm-labor company who transports the workers to the fields, then the farm labor company pays its employees,” Keiser said. “This arrangement they negotiated with the owner of the business was to set up a way to cash checks for their employees within the store, then they told him once the growers paid them they could pay him back … they used his business as a bank, essentially.” ...