Police: Homeless may have helped cash fake checks

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Waveland Police are looking for a man they believe recruited homeless people to cash fake checks.

One coast business is already out more than $9,000. Bill Lady has been in business for more than 35 years, and up until last week, he could say that he'd never been a victim of check fraud.

Lady sent a check to his insurance company for just $20, but he later realized that something wasn't right.

"I went online and I was noticing a lot of checks that cleared that I didn't remember writing," Lady said.

The reason he didn't remember writing those checks, is because he never did.

"It had my signature on it and everything was the same except for a little circle on it, and they were in people's names that I never knew."

Bank leaders at Peoples Bank were so troubled by the findings, they did their own investigation.

"Evidently the business never got the check," said People Bank President Chevis Swetman. "It was taken from their mailbox. And through the aid of computer equipment and a copy machine, they went ahead and created some fictitious numbers for fictitious amounts, and our customer was out of just over $9,000 on eight of these bad checks."

Swetman said, unfortunately, this is a recurring issue in the banking industry. But there are ways to avoid being victimized.

"We'd like to encourage businesses, if they're not going to be working on Saturdays, at least go down and check their mailbox, so it doesn't give the bad guys an opportunity to check your mailbox for you," Swetman said.

He said it's also a good idea to check your account regularly and remember there's always the option of using electronic checks, rather than physical checks.

"I'm kind of old fashioned. I kind of do it the same old way," Bill Lady said. "But I think I'm going to learn pretty quick to do it a different way."

Lady has insurance and is expecting reimbursement for his losses.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.