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Three local businesses scammed by check fraud ring in Columbus

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 3:50 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Three Columbus businesses are regrouping after learning they were scammed.

According to Columbus police, Columbus Regional Tennis Association (CORTA), Don Jones Industrial Builders and Summerland Outdoors are all victims of a check fraud ring running rampant through Columbus.

Sergeant Jane Edenfield with the Columbus Police Department Financial Crimes Unit said it’s a growing problem, and scam artists use various methods against people and businesses, including check fraud.

“When I actually confronted them, I said ‘well that’s my account number and my routing number, but that’s not my signature.’ That’s when the girl knew she was in trouble,” said the owner of Summerland Outdoors, Stephen Benoit.

Benoit looked his scammer right in the eyes as he said she nearly ran him over trying to escape.

He said he got a call from Money Meizer, a pawn shop in Columbus, letting him know a lady was there with one of his checks written out for $3,000.

“Our checking account information was actually stolen and new checks were issued, ”said Benoit.

He said that banking information came after a theft from a post office blue box that many of us use.

According to Edenfield, there are several fraud rings in Columbus, and one of those groups is responsible for Benoit’s stolen checks.

“Instead of robbing gas stations and things like that to get a few hundred dollars, they now do fraud, you know checks, phone scams unemployment fraud because it’s much more lucrative and they can make a whole lot more money doing it,” said Edenfield.

So lucrative that two other businesses’ checks were also stolen and recreated into new checks.

Edenfield said CORTA and Don Jones Industrial Building also had fraudulent checks cashed at Money Meizer.

“You know your account and routing number is on the bottom of the check so if you write a check , they get the check not only can they write a new check, they can pay bills and do a number of things with the check,” said Edenfield.

Now Benoit says he is taking extra safety precautions.