Lumberton, N.C. — Two dozen checks written to the Robeson Community College Foundation have been stolen, and information from them was used to steal even more through identity theft, police said.
The checks, most from college faculty members, were part of a June 8 fundraiser to help the foundation pay for tuition and books for needy students and to assist students in emergencies.
"If a student comes in and has truly got an emergency, then a decision is made and the federation helps them," college President Charles Chrestman said.
The foundation fundraiser brought in 43 checks. The 24 stolen checks totaled more than $1,000, Chrestman said.
The information on 14 of the stolen checks was used to create counterfeit checks that were cashed for more than $23,000, said Detective Tommy Barnes of the Lumberton Police Department.
"The routing number, account number and driver's license number has been used in every case," Barnes said.
The bogus checks were written at stores in Shelby, Charlotte, Huntersville and Greensboro, as well as in South Carolina, he said, adding that 90 percent of the checks were written at Wal-Marts.
"We're hoping to get the videotape for these different stores, primarily Wal-Mart," he said.
Police have no suspects, but Barnes said they believe more than one person is involved. The thief left about half of the checks and $200 in cash donated to the foundation to prevent anyone from detecting the crime, he said.
College employees alerted the foundation and police about the theft when they began noticing problems with their bank accounts. It's not clear how the checks were stolen.
"To have someone do something like that to them is really devastating," Chrestman said.
Banks plan to reimburse the donors, he said.
“(The donors) may or may not experience any fraud. There’s a good chance they will,” Barnes said.