More fake travelers checks found in Breck | SummitDaily.com
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More fake travelers checks found in Breck

by Jane Stebbins

What to look for

The real thing:

? Has a watermark when held up to the light

? Has a rough texture where the denominations are printed

The fakes:

? Are blurry, particularly on the back

? Are missing the watermark

? Are printed on a softer paper stock than are real travelers checks

BRECKENRIDGE – Two more fraudulent travelers checks have been found in Breckenridge, bringing to seven the total discovered so far in bank deposits made by Summit County merchants.

The most recently identified fake checks were taken by High Altitude in La Cima Mall and Cross-Country Crafts in Reliance Place. Three others checks were accepted Monday at Arctic Attitude, Space Cowboy and Shirt Off My Back in Breckenridge. Two others were passed in Silverthorne, at Gemini Sportswear and Mountain Touch Hallmark.

The bogus travelers checks appear to be color photocopies, police officials say. The printing, particularly on the back, is fuzzy; the checks are missing the watermarks embedded into genuine checks; and the checks don’t feel as stiff as do real travelers checks.

Police are looking for up to three suspects.

The first is described as a white male, about 5-foot-8 and 215 pounds, with black hair and sideburns; he was wearing an olive jacket and dark pants. Another is a white male, about 5-foot-10 and slender, 35 to 40 years of age and well-groomed. The third is described as a black woman with a light complexion and copper-colored hair with beads braided into it. She is about 5-foot-9, weighs approximately 160 pounds, and was wearing a black leather jacket and blue jeans.

One of the men provided ID to clerks at Gemini Sportswear and Cross-Country Crafts identifying him as Desmond Ryan. Police said they have determined the information on the ID card was stolen from a man who lives in Hawthorne, Calif. The real Ryan is 72 years old.

“Now it looks like we’re also looking into identity theft,” said Breckenridge Police Officer Joe Staufer.

It is possible more fake checks still are in locked vaults and won’t be identified until the armored car company picks up a business’ money.

“In all likelihood, there could be more,” Staufer said. “When we initially got the call from Arctic Attitude (Monday), I thought there would be more. Sometimes, these people won’t be notified for five days. A lot of the time, people only become aware when the bills are sent back by their financial institutions.”

Like the fraudulent travelers check incidents last year, the scam seems to have originated in California.

“All the signs are pointing in that direction,” Staufer said. “But we can’t be certain right now. We’ll just keep our fingers crossed and hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Silverthorne Police Sgt. Bryan Siebel said his department hasn’t received any more reports of bogus checks, but that he wouldn’t be surprised if business owners find them later this week.

“I’m hoping it’s over in this area,” he said.

Police recommend merchants treat travelers checks in the same manner as personal checks by requesting identification before accepting them. Merchants can call the VISA travelers check hotline at (800) 227-6811 if they have any doubts about a VISA travelers check. Additionally, merchants may contact the local police or sheriff’s department to determine if a check or cash is fraudulent.

Anyone with information regarding the suspects is encouraged to call Det. George Booth at the Breckenridge Police Department, (970) 453-2941, or Sgt. Bryan Siebel at the Silverthorne Police Department, (970) 262-7320.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.


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