THOMASVILLE — No one is immune to scams — not even the City of Thomasville.
On June 15, three checks on the city utilities account were presented and cashed at a local bank. The checks were found to have the same routing numbers as legitimate checks in previous transactions.
The bogus checks were for a total of $9,900, an amount a Thomasville Police Department detective said the city will be required to reimburse the bank.
The situation was discovered Tuesday in a monthly reconciliation of the city utilities account.
"The City of Thomasville has very good internal financial controls in place that proved successful when this discrepancy was discovered in a routine financial review," said City Manager Alan Carson. "While we cannot comment on an active investigation, I can assure you that we take fraudulent actions such as this very seriously.".
Said Lt. Toby Knifer, TPD Criminal Investigations Division commander, "Some counterfeit checks are hitting businesses. One just happens to be the City of Thomasville."
People receive fake checks in lottery and mystery shopper scams, among others.
Knifer said that when someone receives a bogus $3,000 check in the mail and deposits the check in their bank account, they are told by the check sender/scammer to withdraw a certain amount and send it to him or her. The victim is left holding the bag for the $3,000.
"The person who deposited the check is contacted by the bank and informed the check was counterfeit," Knifer said. "People do this unsolicited, thinking they are going to come into a lot of money."
The activity takes places nationwide.
"There's absolutely nothing we can do. We try to educate people, but people continue to do it," the commander said.
About half of the scams TPD sees originate in Europe, Africa and Canada.
An investigation is underway into the city check scam.
"There is no free money," Knifer said.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820