Local News

Authorities In Selma Investigating Fraud Charges

Posted February 6, 2002 4:54 a.m. EST

— Hundreds of people in the Selma area say they signed up for better-paying jobs, but the company they worked for, United States International Products, turned out to be nothing more than a storefront attraction with a room full of empty promises.

James Strickland was no stranger to the people in Selma, so when he announced he was opening a warehouse type of operation with jobs starting at $10-, $12- and $15 an hour, the news drew job-hungry people out in droves.

"I quit my job from Carolina Pottery just to come to work here. It was $12 an hour," worker Shana Foye said. "It's a shame to play with people's lives like this."

Foye was put to work processing applications. Raquel Connell was hired as a plant manager at $15 an hour.

"By yesterday, we figured out something was wrong. He was supposed to get checks from the bank, cashiers checks, and he never came back," she said.

"We know there was probably three to 400 applications taken. We believed that he hired 134, and we know and have talked to several people that have quit a good job for a bad job," Selma Police Chief Roy Godwin said.

The investigation so far has found that Strickland charged 25 employees $25 each for a plant security card. Police also said the warehouse Strickland was planning to move into was never rented.

Police describe Strickland as a man who likes to do things to create attention. Police interviewed Strickland Wednesday afternoon, but no arrest was made. The State Labor Department is investigating possible charges of Fraud.