NewsHillsborough County


Check scheme hits Tampa family-owned business

Posted at 11:19 PM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 23:19:05-05

TAMPA, Fla. -- Business hasn't cooled down for the Comfort Authority, based in Tampa.

Steve and Gerri Cox started the residential air conditioning company five years ago.

"You work really hard to make your living and there’s a lot of people who work here that work really hard to make their living," said Gerri Cox.

The family-owned and operated business has spent years building a loyal and local customer base.

That's why the Cox family was taken back when they were alerted to someone trying to cash one of their checks in New Jersey last week.

"Are we in trouble?" Steve Cox feared. "Did somebody steal our identity?"

The couple quickly learned that multiple phony checks had been circulating from coast to coast, from New York to California.

One check was cashed in San Diego for $1,800, forcing the business to freeze its bank account.

"Not only stealing money from us but inconveniencing our customers. Inconveniencing our vendors, our employees," said Gerri Cox. "It’s more far-reaching than you would think."

The Cox's are now working with investigators within their bank and have signed up for Positive Pay, an automated fraud-detection tool offered by most major banks.