Phony checks hit local banks
By LPR Staff
At least twice this week customers have presented counterfeit checks to tellers at local banks, hoping to reap the profits of a fictional lottery.
According to a Tuesday-afternoon report from the Lockhart Police Department, at least two Lockhart residents were targeted this week by a counterfeit check scam, offering thou
sands of dollars in “lottery winnings” for only a nominal fee.
“These things always go on,” said Lt. Chris Knudsen, who is investigating the case for the Lockhart Police Department. “But people are getting better about not just going in the bank and trying to cash the check – they”re getting a little more suspicious.”
Knudsen said that at least two customers he is aware of, and possibly a third, tried to present the checks at First-Lockhart National Bank, where they were almost immediately recognized as counterfeits.
“Looking at them, you can see that the checks are exactly the same,” he said. “The date, the check number, everything but the payee is the same.”
First-Lockhart National Bank security officer Randy Till suspects the checks were made from one legitimate document.
“Integrated Payment Systems (the alleged issuer of the check) is a company that we do business with,” he said. “They”re a worldwide wire-transfer company, a reputable company. Someone probably got hold of one of their legitimate checks and made the counterfeits from that.”
Till said a number of things about the situations set off alarms for the staff at First-Lockhart National Bank. First, the checks themselves are dated Aug. 25, but were sent with a letter dated Sept. 6. The explanation letter refers to “North Star Cash Lottery,” allegedly an Australian lottery, but the checks are drawn on a bank in Seattle, and were sent from Canada. The envelopes arrived without any distinguishing markings, except a Canadian postmark, and with no return address.
Representatives from Lockhart”s other banks said their customers had not yet tried to cash counterfeit checks, but they would keep their eyes open.
“Every so often, we get a rash of them,” said American National Bank”s Ken Doran. “It”s been awhile since we”ve seen one like that – but someone out there is always going to try to run this scam to get something for nothing.”
In the North Star scheme, customers are mailed a check for $3,250, drawn on the Key Bank National Association out of Seattle, Wash. The check arrives with a Canadian postmark and no return address, promising the recipient a share of more than $50 million in cash prizes. The instructions direct the victim to contact certain individuals in Australia to confirm their prize, before cashing the check.
Till noted that neither of the two potential victims to visit First-Lockhart National Bank this week were taken by the scam.
“People are getting more savvy about this,” he said. “Instead of just trying to cash the check, they are bringing in the information and asking questions. They”re starting to think about things looking suspicious.”
If you are worried that you or a loved one may have received a counterfeit check in the mail, contact your bank before attempting to deposit or spend the money, then contact the local police.