Scammers recruiting homeless to cash stolen checks
COLUMBIA - Columbia Police Officers warned local businesses and banks of an elaborate check scam Wednesday.
"This is not an ordinary check scam," Columbia Police Public Information Officer Latisha Stroer said.
Columbia Police said a group from outside Missouri begins by stealing both incoming and outgoing checks from a local business. They said this allows the scammers to obtain the bank routing information and appropriate signatures for the accounts. Police said the scammers then take the stolen checks to Kansas City or St. Louis where they recruit homeless individuals to assist in the scam. They said the scammers offer clothing, food and money in exchange for putting the homeless person's name on the stolen checks.
Police said the while the homeless accomplice goes in to cash the check the scammers wait in a vehicle nearby, usually within sight of the bank. CPD said the homeless person cashes the check and then the scammers pay the individual for their help.
The Columbia Police Department released this list of tips for protecting aganist check scam:
1.) The banks in town provide a service to protect businesses accounts for a small fee to make sure accounts aren't compromised.
2.) Businesses assure mailboxes are empty prior to end of business.
3.) Businesses can use a P.O. Box to receive incoming checks.
4.) Businesses can use Anti Phishing devices to protect mail from being stolen from the mailbox.
5.) Banks need to be suspicious of local checks being cashed locally by persons outside of Boone County.