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Officials warn residents of fake checks being sent with Pasco County's seal

Fake checks found with Pasco County seal PASCO COUNTY CLERK.png
Posted at 5:01 PM, Jul 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-18 18:02:38-04

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Pasco County officials are warning residents to be on the lookout for bogus checks that look like they are from the county government and are being used to try and steal your money.

Lisa Comstock was not fooled when she got a debit card in the mail.

“The next morning I got up and went straight to the bank. And said this is not my account how was this account opened,” said Comstock.

The bank told Lisa someone opened an account using a fake check that appeared to be issued by the Pasco County Government for $1,320.

“They were actually able to open that account via phone without my ID. But they had my social security number,” she said.

Pasco County Clerk Nikki Alvarez-Sowles said her office has found about 300 similar checks that were sent out with the Pasco County government seal.

Fake checks found with Pasco County seal PASCO COUNTY CLERK.png

But she said safeguards have kept any of them from being cashed so far.

The checks have an LLC listed which is the first sign they didn’t come from Pasco County, but efforts were made to make them look legit.

“They have two signatures. They have my signature. And the check that was presented to me as fraudulent had commissioner Ron Oakley’s signature. And I’ve seen commissioner Oakley’s signature many times. I can recognize it, I feel. Both of those signatures looked legit. They looked like our signatures,” said Alvarez-Sowles.

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating this latest round of fake checks, but Alvarez-Sowles said it’s just the latest attempt to try rip people off.

“It happens not only to government but it happens to businesses and personal people just out there with their personal bank account,” said Alvarez-Sowles.

Meanwhile, Lisa is using an identity theft protection service.

She’s also worried that her personal information may come from someone stealing her mail.

“You don’t realize those advertisements you don’t even open them. Just throw them in the trash. All it takes is for somebody to see it on the ground, maybe falling out of the trash,” said Comstock.

Experts said to protect your identity check your credit reports, use strong passwords, secure your mailbox and shred documents with sensitive information.