The Nye County sheriff's office Thursday announced the arrests of 16 Pahrump residents accused of being involved in an elaborate forgery scheme. More than a dozen other people, including three Las Vegas men, were being sought for questioning.
Authorities said 37-year-old Eugene Lamont Harris of Pahrump was the mastermind of the fraud ring.
Harris recruited his friends, who recruited their friends, to participate in the scheme, authorities said. He produced forged Social Security disability income award letters and gave them to members of the ring, the sheriff's office said.
Authorities said Harris would tell them to go to a payday loan store to get a loan in the amount of the disability letter. He then would tell the individuals that he would repay the loan.
Those who received loans would split the money with Harris, authorities said.
The loans that Harris promised to pay were not repaid, and the person who took out the payday loan ended up being responsible for the balance of the loan.
Harris is facing 34 counts of forgery, 34 counts of obtaining money under false pretenses, 34 counts of burglary and 34 counts of conspiracy to commit a crime.
Harris is being held at the sheriff's office on $850,000 bail.
The other 15 people arrested, men and women ranging in age from 18 to 43, are facing charges of one count each of forgery, obtaining money under false pretenses, burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime. They are being held on $25,000 bail each.