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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Ocala Police Department arrests four people on organized fraud charges

The Ocala Police Department arrested four individuals who allegedly traveled as a group to commit fraud at multiple banks.

On Friday, July 22, an OPD officer responded to the Regions Bank located at 1700 SE 17th Street in Ocala in order to follow up on a previous fraud case. According to OPD, an incident of fraud had occurred at another branch in Belleview and local officers were looking for the suspect’s vehicle: a green 2022 Dodge Charger.

When the officer arrived at the Ocala branch, the suspect’s vehicle was located in the parking lot. The officer approached the vehicle and observed three occupants who were later identified as 23-year-old Philon Lanae Walker (driver), 27-year-old Tamanda Denise Vanwinkles (passenger), and 34-year-old Christopher Ricardo Ortiz (passenger).

Ocala Police Philon Lanae Walker (left) and Tamanda Denise Vanwinkles (right)
Philon Lanae Walker (left) and Tamanda Denise Vanwinkles (right)
Christopher Ricardo Ortiz (left) and Jenesis Katrina Ferreras (right)
Christopher Ricardo Ortiz (left) and Jenesis Katrina Ferreras (right)

While Walker, Vanwinkles, and Ortiz were waiting inside the vehicle, 21-year-old Jenesis Katrina Ferreras was inside the bank. She was allegedly attempting to cash a fraudulent check for $995.

The officer detected the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle, which prompted a search of the vehicle’s interior. During the search, three pages of blank checks were found in an envelope that was located between the driver’s seat and center console.

According to OPD, these checks had a unique number sequence on the back that matched the fraudulent checks that were cashed at other locations. In addition, officers located $6,400 in cash inside the vehicle.

Vanwinkles, Walker, Ortiz, and Ferreras were arrested, transported to Marion County Jail, and they were all later released on bond. They are each facing felony charges for organized fraud (less than $20,000) and possession of a counterfeit payment instrument.

Ortiz is facing an additional misdemeanor charge for possession of marijuana (less than 20 grams). Walker is also facing misdemeanor charges for possession of marijuana (less than 20 grams) and possession of drug paraphernalia.