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Company says fake check scam widespread

By Noelle Edwards
nedwards@salisburypost.comLea Pierce, managing director of Wine Competition Management, said a Rockwell man wasn’t the only one to receive fraudulent checks with the company’s name on them.
William Evans received two $2,850 checks from a Florida address earlier in the week, and they had the name of Wine Competition Management on them. Bank of the West, where the checks were from, told him the account had no money in it when he called.
Pierce said Evans is one of many people to get such checks delivered to their house in a FedEx package.
She said she’s fielding about 20 calls a day and Bank of the West is fielding 20 to 30 calls a day from people who have gotten such checks.
“I have been completely inundated all week with this mess,” she said in a phone message to the Post.
Someone got the organization’s bank account number. Pierce said it’s the second time the organization has had to close its account this year because of fraud. The first time was a security breach with the bank, but this time is specific to Wine Competition Management.
Pierce said she’s looking for a security consultant to help prevent a similar situation in the future, and she’s also talking with Bank of the West’s corporate security consultant.
Evans got an e-mail the day after receiving the checks from an organization he had signed up with that advertised work-from-home opportunities. It directed him to cash the checks, keep $400 and send the balance via Western Union to a financial representative of the company.
Pierce said that’s a common scheme, and it leaves the person who cashes the check out hundreds or thousands of dollars.
“I’m out time and convenience,” she said, “but there are a lot of people out there who are losing money.”
She said Wine Competition Management isn’t responsible for the money value of the checks.
She’s also heard from people who have been scammed through ads on Craigslist.
She said on the phone message, “For God’s sake, don’t cash any of these checks.”
She said Wine Competition Management hasn’t mailed out checks in about 45 days because it’s between competition cycles.
“If people think a check or a deal is a little bit off,” she said, “it probably is.”
She said several law enforcement organizations are involved in finding out what’s going on, and she thinks the FBI is one of those organizations.
She said in the phone message, “The kicker on this, what’s really ironic, is FedEx is one of our sponsors, one of our corporate sponsors, so everybody’s just getting whammed.”

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