Watch for phony tax advance refund checks -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Scam Alert:

Watch for phony tax advance refund checks

February 21, 2007

Albany -- One Albany business has lost thousands of dollars cashing phony tax advance refund checks. Sheriff's Investigators say it was a very professional counterfeiting operation, using phony Georgia Driver's Licenses. A warning about this scam operation tonight, that has Investigators wondering how many other South Georgia businesses have been hit.  

Customers with the phony refund checks started to come into the Lighthouse Liquor Store February First. Over the next couple of days seven people cashed similar checks, most for $1700 or $1800 each. All the customers had Georgia Driver's Licenses with Albany addresses.

Lighthouse Manager Paul Duffy said "looked like a real Georgia Driver's License to me. Came in with all the right credentials. We called the toll free number, got our approval number. Thought they were legit, and cashed them."

But those checks were not legit, and weeks later they found out they had been scammed out of nearly seven thousand dollars by a very professional theft gang, using a sophisticated tax advance refund check.

Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigator Lt. Craig Dodd said "They have a watermark in the upper left hand corner that says River City Bank in Louisville, Kentucky."

Copies of those phony driver's licenses were made, the addresses and names are fake, but the scam artist's pictures are real.

Lighthouse Liquors is the only business that has reported cashing the phony tax advance checks, but Investigators are sure there are more victims. They are asking for your help catching these crooks.

Dodd said "Did anyone else get hit with these same type of tax return checks? Number two, does anyone recognize any of these people as being local people?"

Duffy says it really hurts their small business to lose this much money to scam artists, and they have learned an expensive lesson. "We are going to change some of our check cashing policies, and try to do a better job. And we are going to catch these people."

Investigators say the phony check scammers use check cashing liquor stores instead of banks to try to avoid cameras. Their real photo is the only thing legitimate about this rip off, and Investigators hope you can identify some of these crooks.

Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigators ask you to call them if you have a business that has cashed any of these tax advance refund checks, or if you recognize any of the people on those phony driver's license pictures.


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