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Check scam stretches across the country

LynAnne Vucovich • Updated Jan 14, 2020 at 11:40 AM

A woman from California received a fraudulent check, supposedly from the city of Norwalk.

Charlotte Banke reached out to the Reflector after she was threatened and sent a fake check from what she thought was a job opportunity.

Banke was looking for a way to earn extra money and applied online to a job advertising to pay $500 a week for putting Dr. Pepper decals on your vehicle.

She said in a text message to the sender of the check, “every month is a struggle on the little income I receive. … This opportunity seemed heaven-sent yet too good to be true at the same time.”

Banke, a single mother, she said she recently lost everything due to a “slum lord.”

The sender of the fake check, or as Banke referred to them,“scammers,” told her she would receive a check for $3,700 through FedEx.

“We remove $500 for your first week payment. The rest, $3,200, (will) be going to the specialist who (will) install the decal on your vehicle,” the person said.

Once Banke received the check, she “felt something was wrong” and tried to stall cashing it.

“I even tried to back out and expressed my concerns through suggestions which (weren’t) acknowledged,” Banke said in an email. “After researching l learned the check was forged.”

After she started to stall, the person Banke was speaking with seemed to get angry.

The scammer said it seemed Banke wanted to “run away with my hard earned money.”

“I will have to involve the FBI and the local CIA on this (because) it seems you want to screw me,” the person said in a text message to Banke.

“I have a cousin that works as a fraud investigator for FBI. … I will be giving you two hours to get back to me with the money transfer details or else … DON’T TRY TO PLAY WITH ME!”

In a reply, Banke told the person “I could understand the threats if the check was cashed but it’s untouched.”

Banke told them she was declining to cash the check and she didn’t need the added stress.

“Feel free to arrange a time in the afternoon to have FedEx get the check or I can shred it,” Banke offered.

The person, supposedly with Dr. Pepper, continued to tell Banke’s to cash the check.

Banke told them the check was fake, with the wrong routing number and an incorrect address for the bank.

“Shame on you for even putting someone like me in this situation,” Banke said in a text message. “There’s also videos all over the web on this fake Dr. Pepper car wrap.”

The check, which has a city of Norwalk logo on it, is “signed” by Michelle Reeder, the city’s previous finance director.

The address on the check says “City of Norwalk, 38 Whittlesey Ave. Norway” and is listed as a check from Croghan Colonial Bank, whose address is 60 Whittlesey Ave.

A 17-year-old girl in Cincinnati fell victim to a similar scam in June, as reported by WCPO. Someone else from Harleyville, S.C. also applied to the Dr. Pepper car wrap opportunity, but the woman and her husband ripped up the check, according to WCSC

In response to the fake check, Norwalk Mayor Dave Light said the investigation into the situation “is going to be turned over to the police department to jump on that and see what we can do.” 

Light said the fraudulent check was “very concerning” and they will be working to “get that under control.” 

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