Scam uses business checks, unsuspecting helpers

TUPELO – Banks and businesses are losing money from the most recent scam to hit the area.
Tupelo Police Capt. Chuck Bunn said that over the past three weeks, several counterfeit checks – made by duplicating legitimate checks from businesses – have been cashed to the tune of $40,000.
The culprits, believed to be from outside Mississippi, have used local residents to cash the checks in return for a small portion of the money. The checks have ranged from $1,700 to $3,700.
“Several banks and businesses have fallen victim to this scam,” said Bunn. “The checks look real down to the signature of the business’ representative. They have everything on them that says it’s a real check and they are tied to real accounts, so money is being lost. They have recruited these local people to cash the checks for them and now they are in trouble as well.”
Bunn said the scheme apparently works like this: Someone snags a real check from someone’s mailbox, scans it and sticks it back in the individual’s mailbox before anyone notices. Then, copies of the check are printed.
Bunn said the scammers ask people to cash the counterfeit checks for them.
“The people actually cashing the checks are being charged with false pretense, which is a felony,” said Bunn. “At the end of the day someone is going to have to pay that money back and that’s going to fall on the people running the scam and those who actually cashed the checks.”
Bunn said scammers – a young-looking woman and three men – have been recruiting people in the North Green Street area. Police have made several arrests and are ready to make more. Bunn said police know who the people are who cashed the checks because they used their real IDs.
Police believe the alleged operators of the scam drive a silver PT Cruiser and a Pontiac Grand Prix with Georgia license plates.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@journalinc.com.

Have you been scammed?
- If you have any information about this
case, call CrimeStoppers at (800) 773-8477.

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal