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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Counterfeit Check Scams

CINCINNATI, Ohio (Howard Ain ) -- It's a bank robbery without ever being at a bank.  Local-12 Troubleshooter Howard Ain introduces us to a woman tonight whose bank account was robbed.

You'll likely be surprised how easy it is for someone to gain access, if you think your bank account is theft-proof, think again. 

Dozens of Missouri victims recently had their accounts compromised.  They learned a valuable lesson they want everyone to know.

Mary Pearson says, I was very, very angry.  I don't like it when someone steals from me.

Mary Pearson is a small business owner.  Her story begins with a call from her bank.

They said, Did you write a check for $2,400 dollars?  And I said I absolutely did not.

Pearson immediately went to the bank to make sure no other bad checks had been written.  Then she filed a police report.

My next thought was how in the world did they get my information, who is this person and why did they pinpoint us?

Turns out she was one of 55 victims who had accounts compromised with more than 60 thousand dollars in losses.  Postal inspectors say two suspects were producing and cashing counterfeit checks.

David Nitz, a US Postal Inspector, said, Take the information on the checks that were stolen and just create a new check based on that information.

Inspectors were able to identify some of the check cashers recruited as part of the ring.

Nitz continues, We were able to get one of the check cashers to start working with them and that resulted in them doing recordings and phone calls and being able to track their locations.

Pearson says she has learned a valuable lesson, Now I go online daily to see what's gone through, the amount, who it went to.

Nitz says, If you are a business make sure your accounting department, if it is a business, make sure checks are being reconciled as soon as you are able.

Two suspects were arrested but for Pearson that's not enough.
I would almost like him to come work for me.  He would clean toilets and he would sweep out the warehouse and take out the trash and he would do all the menial jobs and get 1 dollar a day.  He would work off the $2,400 dollars. 

The main suspect in the case has been charged with mail fraud, making false statements, counterfeiting and forgery.  He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.



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