Counterfeit checks are circulating - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Counterfeit checks are circulating

March 15, 2007

Albany --  More than 30 people have tried to cash the counterfeit checks at just one Albany business.
Businesses and Sheriff's Investigators warn you that it's a scam, and it could cost you big if you fall for it.

The checks look real. Most say they are good for $2,900, the front payment for $250,00 won in a foreign lottery.

But here's a good question from the Manager of the Albany Check Casher Melody Owens, "How can you win a lottery that you never entered?"

Owens says she can't understand how people are still falling for this old con, but dozens of South Georgians are. In the last two weeks, more than 30 people have tried to cash the counterfeit checks at the Albany Check Casher. She knows other businesses are probably seeing them too.  "It's hundreds, could be as many as 1,500. In one week that were mailed out."

Most of the counterfeit checks are from the Pioneer Federal Credit Union in Mountain Home, Idaho, a real bank.

Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigator Lt. Craig Dodd said, "They are all legitimate banks, but the checks being sent out on this scam are counterfeit checks."

A letter with the check says you have won big money. You just deposit the check, then wire $900 to a Canadian address for a processing fee. If you do, in a couple of weeks you find the check is fake, and Albany Check Cashers will have to charge you with a felony, demanding their money back.

Owens says if you deposit the check in your bank, that gives the scam artists your financial information, and they'll empty your account.

Owens is confiscating the checks that show up at their business, and turning them over to Sheriff's Investigators. She keeps copies to show customers who bring them in, but many people still argue the checks are real.

Dodd says they see variations of this scam everyday, but there is not much they can do since the scam is coming out of Canada. "It's something that the Federal Authorities are going to have to do something about. Because these people are preying on our senior citizens."

Owens says often customers coming in with the counterfeit checks argue that they are real. Lt. Dodd says it appears the scam is getting names and addresses from lists from A.A.R.P. and the Triple-A Auto Club to use to target victims.

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