Local News

Durham police warn of check scam, offer tips to avoid fraud

Posted December 20, 2011

— Durham police warned Tuesday about a stolen check scam that has victimized several people in recent weeks.

Two people have been arrested and charged with fraud in connection with several cases, but police asked that people be on alert for potential scams.

In recent cases, victims were approached by people claiming to need cash for an emergency. They have told victims they need the money to repair a broken-down car, pay for a room for the night or to help with personal issues, police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said.

The suspects have then told the victims that they have a check, but have been unable to cash it. They've convinced the victims to either cash the check or deposit it in exchange for cash. 

The victims have later learned that the check was stolen and that the bank wants the money returned, Michael said.

Timothy Jones, 22, and Tydricka Lewis, 22, both of 1024 Kent St., were each charged with common law forgery, common law uttering, identity theft, obtaining property by false pretenses and soliciting a felony in connection with several cases of this type, Michael said.

The North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety urges people to take the following steps to avoid being victims of fraud:

  • Never allow anyone to watch while you use your ATM card or code.
  • No one, not even a police officer or bank employee, should ever ask you to withdraw money from your account or provide your ATM PIN. If they do, alert a bank manager or police officer.
  • Do not allow salespeople to intimidate you or talk you into anything.
  • If a deal or money-making plan cannot wait for you to do some research, pass up the opportunity.
  • Read and understand any contract before signing.
  • Deal only with local businesses you know.
  • Verify door-to-door salesmen with law enforcement or the Better Business Bureau.
  • Do not enter a contest or accept free gifts or prizes unless you clearly understand all of your obligations.
  • Never pay for something you did not order or do not want. Simply refuse to accept delivery or make payment.
  • Buy insurance from someone you know and trust, preferably someone who is local and has an excellent reputation. Buy only what you need and can afford.
  • Never give credit card numbers over the telephone unless you initiate the action with a reputable company. In the wrong hands, your credit card number can be used fraudulently against you.

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  • starshine Dec 22, 2011

    This old scam still going on? I've been approached a few times throughout the years with the same story. In fact, just about two months ago I was approached at night by a couple in a parking lot in downtown Fuquay-Varina. Said NO, drove away fast.

  • ICTrue Dec 22, 2011

    "If people walk up to you in a parking lot just say,no thanks and keep on walking" avnvideo

    Exactly. I travel a lot over the road and have had that scam run on me at least four or five times. They have never gotten more than a word or two from me, like "nope" or "sorry" or "get lost".

  • not my real name Dec 22, 2011

    if THEY cant cash the check.....well....here's your sign that it's stolen. Little common sense goes a looooooong way.

  • EverythingTicksMeOff Dec 21, 2011

    Right. If a police officer asks you to withdraw money from your account, notify a police officer. Anything wrong with that picture?

  • ncouterbanks69 Dec 21, 2011

    Where's MY free money?

  • Follow_The_Money27617 Dec 21, 2011

    When people ask me for gas money saying they are on empty I ask why they even drove the car knowing it was going to run out of gas and they had no money. Its like they leave the house and say "I know I have no money and ill need gas soon. Oh well Im sure I can beg for gas money while Im out".

  • avnvideo Dec 21, 2011

    The gas scam is very common around the holiday season as is the I need money to get home to visit my dying relative.

    If people walk up to you in a parking lot just say,no thanks and keep on walking

  • hunter38 Dec 21, 2011


    Sounds like the name of a dinosaur

  • MzBoogie Dec 21, 2011

    Dilligaf, I have a similiar story. I was approached at a service station. The gentleman asked for any "spare change". He was hungry and wanted to buy food. I invited the man into the store and told him to get some food and I would pay for it. He looked shocked, turned around and walked out of the store. Needless to say, he was not around when I came out. He was probably waiting for me to leave just in case I ruined it for the next victim.

  • country4ever Dec 21, 2011

    I was recently approached by a man in a parking lot asking for money to buy gas. He pointed to "his" car and said that it was on empty and he only needed a little money for gas to get him home. I told him I would be glad to give him some money if I could look at the gas gauge (there were numerous people around so I felt comfortable doing this). He simply turned and walked away saying "just forget about it". I knew he wasn't telling the truth!!