Check fraudsters sought
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Darlington Police Department is asking for assistance in locating three men wanted for passing fraudulent checks totaling $3,352 at local Carolina Bank branches.
According to a police report filed with the DPD, the incidents took place May 22 at the Carolina Bank located at 104 Orange Street in Darlington. A teller reported that a black male wearing a blue shirt and possibly a skull cap entered the bank and attempted to cash a counterfeit check in the amount of $2,130.78. The suspect presented a Georgia driver’s license. The teller indicated that due to the large amount of money involved, she would need approval before cashing it. At that point, the suspect left the bank, abandoning his check and license.
The teller reported that just prior to this incident, three men – two black and one white – had successfully cashed three checks totaling $3,352.14 at the Carolina Bank branch located at 101 Express Lane in Darlington.
All the fraudulent checks involved in this scam used the name and address of a local business, Singletary’s Tire & Auto, Inc., which is a Carolina Bank customer.
Video surveillance at the banks captured the suspect’s images. Chief Danny Watson and Investigator Tony Flowers say the DPD is actively seeking these suspects and would appreciate any help the public can provide in identifying and locating them. If you have information, please call the Darlington Police Department at (843) 398-4026 or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DarlingtonPDSC
Watson says that with the ready availability of check stock paper at office supply stores and the sharp printing and graphics capabilities of high-tech computers and printers, counterfeit checks look more legitimate than ever. This means the best way to detect fraud is through vigilance and vetting procedures.
“If the person has a local address, look them up (in the phone book or online) and make sure the address matches. And make sure their ID matches the address on the check,” Watson says.
Also, check the date of issue on their photo ID. If the driver’s license or ID card was issued very recently, it may have been obtained to give a fraudster the appearance of legitimacy.
A very low check number can also serve as a warning sign, since most businesses are lost past the “00001” sections of their checkbooks.
While inspecting a check, look closely at the routing numbers and account numbers and make certain they measure up; American Bankers Association-designated routing numbers have nine digits, and bank account numbers normally have nine to twelve digits.
Too many digits, or too few, and you might be looking at a counterfeit.
Even if you can’t pinpoint why you don’t trust the check – or the person presenting the check – sometimes your intuition could be trying to warn you away from danger.
Watson says in those cases, don’t let your concern over appearing rude dissuade you from asking for further verification, or calling local law enforcement for help.
“If you think something doesn’t look right, call us and let us know,” says Watson. “If you can safely stall the person until we get there, that’s great, but (a fraudster) generally won’t stick around if they think the police are coming.”