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Check scam creeping its way through Lawrence County

Lawrence County residents take note – your checking account might be under attack.

Sunday, July 29, 2001

Lawrence County residents take note – your checking account might be under attack.

County Sheriff Tim Sexton said a scam is running through the area that involves a thief or thieves stealing the account number from one checking account and using another stolen check to withdraw money.

The scheme is rather involved – because in order for the scam to work two checks must be stolen.

First, the Sheriff explained, the thieving party swipes a used check – probably from a mailbox. Sexton said mail that normally contains a check, such as an electric bill is targeted. With that check the thief has the person’s account number and the name of their bank.

The schemer then swipes a blank check from a different person. The scam comes full circle when the criminal, or criminals, writes a check to the first person’s checking account then takes the check to that person’s bank and deposits an amount into the account – but not the full amount. The criminal keeps a certain amount out reaping money from the person who’s blank check was stolen.

An example: Mr. Smith’s electric bill was stolen from his mailbox by a thief. The thief then steals a blank check from Mr. Jones. The thief writes Mr. Smith a check for $1,000 drafted from Mr. Jones’ checking account. The thief then goes to Mr. Smith’s bank, deposits $400 into his account and pockets the $600 balance.

Confusing? Well, the scam has also confused banks since money is being deposited into an account, the transaction may come under less scrutiny by unsuspecting tellers. The Sheriff also noted the criminal(s) also prefer using the drive-through teller lanes.

Sexton said anyone who’s bills have been missing from their mailboxes should contact the Sheriff’s office. People who also notice a little extra cash in their checking account from an unknown source should also be suspicious.

Sexton said the investigation into the matter is still ongoing. He asked that if anyone had information, they should contact the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department at 532-3525.