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243 FAKE MONEY ORDERS, 1 ARREST

A Safety Harbor man linked to a similar case in August faces multiple charges.

Police have arrested a man they say passed more than 200 fraudulent money orders.

Raul Francisco Zelaya, 51, persuaded an acquaintance to cash 28 fraudulent Western Union money orders, according to the Clearwater Police Department.

Zelaya met the woman at Dunkin Donuts on Gulf to Bay Boulevard in Clearwater on Sept. 10, gave her the money orders worth $850 each, and asked her to cash them so they wouldn't be traced to him.

The woman turned the money orders over to police. The department's Economic Crimes Unit linked Zelaya to an August case where police said he fraudulently cashed Postal Service money orders at the Greyhound Bus Station on Gulf to Bay Boulevard. And, Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies had arrested him on a similar charge before.

On Tuesday, police went to Zelaya's home at 2207 Hampstead Court in Safety Harbor and arrested him. They found 243 fake money orders, valued at $230,000.

Zelaya was charged with felony scheme to defraud a financial institution, felony communications fraud, possession of counterfeit checks, two counts of grand theft and uttering forged checks. He was released from jail on $34,500 bail.

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