Cloned check used to drain couple’s account

OKEECHOBEE — A local couple saw their joint checking account drained of more than $3,000 when someone used a cloned check in their names.

The couple first became aware of the problem on Oct. 28 when the husband tried to use his debit card and it was declined, stated a report by Deputy Mark Margerum of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO).

According to the man’s wife someone got her name and made out a check in her name.

“The check was actually written to me but was on someone else’s check. So, they were a victim too,” she said, asking that her name be withheld.

She went on to explain that the second party was from Miami and the name at the top of the check, which would normally be the name on the account, was Shawn Philip of Miami.

When asked if whomever cashed the bogus check had her identity, the local woman said they must.

“I would assume so. They passed the check on our account,” she said. “On the memo line they wrote payment, like they made a payment to me.”
Initially, she thought her husband was taking money out of their joint account.

The couple learned on Oct. 18 someone had used a virtual Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in Hallandale Beach and withdrew $1,200 from their joint checking account. The next day, someone in Pembroke Pines used a virtual ATM and took another $500 out of their account.

The man was later told by his bank that someone had used a cloned check — #485 — to withdraw another $1,650 from their account, stated the deputy.

The bank, he continued, did not know where that check had been passed.

“I do have a copy of the check. The check was #485, but it wasn’t our check,” she offered.

In all, the couple lost $3,350 from their account.

The couple next filed a fraud complaint with their bank. That bank, stated the deputy, then refunded all the couple had lost due to the fraud.

Deputy Margerum went on to indicate the couple will later give him their bank account statement which documents the fraudulent withdrawals from their local account.

Since this happened, the woman said she and her husband have had to set up a whole new bank account. Plus, the bank put a hold on their account.

“I told them we have to get money out of the account. How do you expect me to put gas in the car or feed my kids? But, that (hold) has been lifted,” she offered.

She said they’ve not had any other losses.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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