Victim of check scam shares lessons learned

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - If you think your bank account is theft-proof, think again. Dozens of victims whose accounts were compromised learned a valuable lesson they want to let you know.

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

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

"They said, 'Did you write a check for $2,400?' And I said, 'I absolutely did not,'" explained Pearson.

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

Pearson said, "My next thought was how in the world did they get that 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 $60,000 in losses.  Postal Inspectors say two suspects were producing and cashing counterfeit checks.

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

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

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

Pearson says she has learned a valuable lesson.

"Now, I go online daily to see what's gone through on a daily basis to see what has gone through the amount who it went to," said Pearson.

"If you are a business make sure your accounting department and make sure checks are being reconciled as soon as you are able," warned Nitz.

Two suspects were arrested, but for Pearson, that's not enough.

"I would almost like him to come work for me," she said.  "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 a day. He would work off the $2,400.00"

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

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