January 25, 2013

Fake check nets larceny charges

SARANAC LAKE — A Saranac Lake woman is facing grand-larceny charges after cashing what police say was a fraudulent check from an online scam.

Saranac Lake Village Police arrested Allison S. Koller on Thursday for cashing the check through her local bank account last April.

The check was in excess of $1,000, police said.

“It was a fraudulent check sent to her through the mail,” arresting officer Casey Reardon said Thursday.

“It was a check sent after someone had contacted her over the Internet. It’s real common via Craigslist and other Internet sites that sometimes look to add cash for shipping.

"People get these checks in the mail — they are signed and everything.

"But the game they play is based on the delay in the time it takes a bank to figure out the check is fraudulent,” Reardon said.

“The bank the check is drawn from will come back and say the account is fraudulent. But, by then, the person has sent cash back to the person who sent them the (fake) check.”

Koller is liable for the cost of the bogus check, police said.

An investigation is continuing into whether Koller knew she was being scammed, police said.

Oftentimes, the scammers who sent the check are from far away and ask the person cashing it to send them some portion of the proceeds, either by wire or mail.

Police said Koller did not admit to sending cash to the check-writer.

Police did not reveal the source of the scam, but Koller, 40, was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, a felony.

Koller could not be reached by telephone. An old phone number in her name now belongs to a different local resident, and her former cell-phone number is disconnected.

Reardon said fake-check scams are common. 

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