Many of us wish we made a higher salary. Few of us would go as far as Victoria Calbert did to earn a six-figure paycheck.
Calbert, a 40-year-old woman from Springfield, Mo., allegedly cashed $116,295.99 in counterfeit checks at Walmart stores across the Midwest, the Springfield News-Leader reported.
After she was arrested on Sept. 27, police officers searched Calbert’s home and found close to three dozen counterfeit checks linked to 13 fake military IDs printed with Calbert’s picture. Officers also discovered printing and laminating tools among other counterfeiting equipment.
Since November of last year, Calbert reportedly traveled through Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas and Missouri and attempted to cash 732 fake checks. In total, 515 checks were actually accepted by Walmart. Court documents indicated that Calbert has already served time in prison on previous forgery charges, according to the Springfield News-Leader.
The big box store has fallen victim to fake check scams several times in the past few months. Identity thieves recently used fake checks to buy electronics at 11 different Walmart stores in the southeast, WSB Radio reports. The alleged criminals would write checks for less than $500 at one Walmart store and then return the purchased items to another store for cash. In May, Tina Groff of Leigh Acres, Fla. allegedly used counterfeit school district payroll checks to earn $1,844.32 in stolen funds, Wink News reported.
Walmart isn’t the only company dealing with the issue. A few months ago, Sabrina Yvette Cantrell, an Atlanta woman, was caught allegedly cashing over $40,000 in counterfeit checks at Kroger grocery stores, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cantrell’s crimes were traced using her Kroger Plus Card -- a discount card that she used to save money on her illegitimate purchases.
Fake check scams are on the rise, according to the Federal Trade Commission, but it's usually innocent people -- not stores like Walmart and Kroger -- that are the victims. The scam begins when you receive a check in the mail saying you've won a prize. The enclosed letter states all you need to do to collect your winnings is send money to the sender to pay taxes and fees.
Even if the check appears legitimate, the Federal Trade Commision warns that some counterfeit checks can look so real that bank tellers can mistake them for real ones. By using expensive printers and watermarks that appear authentic, thieves get away with an estimated $5 billion in check fraud a year in the United States, according to Bankers' Bank of the West. An American Bankers Association Check Fraud study found that in 2008 there were 761,000 cases of check fraud in the country.
Calbert is charged with four counts of felony forgery and one count of possessing forgery equipment, according to the Associated Press. She is being held in the Greene County Jail in Missouri on a $50,000 bond, the Springfield News-Leader reported.
For tips on how to avoid check scams, click here.