Archive for Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Credit scam victimizes Tonganoxie woman

March 22, 2006

The last thing a Tonganoxie woman expected was to be the victim of a credit card fraud.

Cheryl Theno recently planned to pay her credit card balance via the Internet. But the amount of the bill stunned her.

Theno said the statement showed purchases of roughly $13,000.

"I about had a heart attack," Theno said. "So I called my credit card company and they told me that they were the convenience checks."

Convenience checks are blank checks credit card companies send to their customers to be used for cash advances.

"I didn't write them and we never write them," Theno said. "We always rip them up."

But somehow, this year, the Theno's blank credit card checks wound up in the hands of someone else -- someone who filled in an amount and signed Theno's name on each of the two checks. Eventually the checks were cashed -- to the tune of about $13,000.

Sgt. Billy Adcox said Tonganoxie police are investigating the check thefts, as are Kansas City, Kan., police, because the checks were cashed in Kansas City, Kan.

Adcox said Tonganoxie police have interviewed a suspect -- a Bonner Springs man -- regarding the theft and cashing of the checks. KCK police have interviewed the man as well, but no charges had been filed as of Monday, Adcox said.

"He's claiming the checks were put in his box (mailbox) by accident and that's how he came into possession of them," Adcox said.

As for Theno, her credit card company removed finance charges she incurred because of the fraudulent checks. In the process, she learned that consumers could call their credit card companies and request that convenience checks not be sent.

Theno also learned that consumers may contact one of the three major credit-reporting agency -- Experian, Equifax or Trans Union -- to initiate a fraud alert for credit cards when a card is stolen or convenience checks are forged. One agency will contact the other two so that fraud alerts can be initiated with their agencies also. When a credit card is used at retail stores, for example, the card will be shown as lost or stolen.

"I was lucky," Theno said. "That's as far as it went for me. I found it and I stopped it and they took the charges off my account."

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