Some people have expensive taste, but can’t afford to buy the real thing; so, they purchase knock-offs or counterfeit consumer goods that look almost identical to expensive name brand items. Whether the fake items are designer clothes, high-end purses, imitation Rolex watches or Cubic Zirconia, sometimes it’s hard to tell the imitation from the real thing. DelawareOnline.com reports on a Newark woman who produced and wrote an abundance of counterfeit checks to nationally known retail stores and got away with more than $100,000 in real goods.
The story states that over a 10-month period, the 37-year-old woman used a computer software program, special check paper and “MICR-compliant” check-writing ink to fabricate hundreds of counterfeit checks. (MICR stands for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition and is a special magnetic ink that allows check numbers, bank routing numbers, checking account numbers and the amount of the check to be read by the receiver, usually a bank.) The woman used the names of real banks and their routing numbers, but created fake account numbers. The fraudster and her co-conspirators involved in the check fraud scheme wrote checks to multiple national retail stores. They perpetrators got away with writing over 700 bad checks and more than 250 were actually honored by the financial institution. (So 450 checks were not honored, wasn’t that a clue?)
So whose names were on the checks, you ask? The scheme also involved the purchase of 200 personal identification profiles. The fraud ring used more than 65 Social Security numbers (SSNs), plus drivers’ licenses and identification documents to attempt to cash the fake checks. The article reports that the ringleader also used the SSN of another person to lease her home and set up cable and power services. (Shocking! She probably used her mom’s identity.)
What stands out about this case is that this was not her only experience with identity theft and check fraud. During her six-day trial, she admitted that she had served nearly two years in prison on a prior conviction and had been involved in this type of fraud for over 10 years. (Hello, have you not learned your lesson yet?)
The fraudster was ordered to serve six years and nine months in jail for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, access device fraud, fraudulent use of a SSN and aggravated identity theft. (I like this judge.) Maybe this time around, a longer jail sentence will allow the repeat criminal time to contemplate why faking checks and taking identities doesn’t make it.