Local News

Son: Woman charged in online scam is victim, not criminal

Posted November 5, 2010

— A Fayetteville woman charged with participating in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme with links to Nigeria was victimized by the man running the scam, her son says.

Marie Elizabeth Register, 48, of 4542 Caskey Court, was charged Tuesday with two counts each of obtaining property by false pretense and obtaining property greater than $100,000 by false pretenses, four counts of forgery of an instrument and one count of possession of five or more counterfeit instruments.

Investigators said Register printed and mailed 235 counterfeit checks valued at more than $500,000 to people selling items on the eBay and Craigslist websites.

Register asked sellers to cash checks valued at more than what she owed, keep payment for the items purchased and send the balance back to her via Western Union or Moneygram, investigators said. She would then mail the cash to Nigeria.

Michael Wells said his mother met a man via computer and began an online relationship. He said she has had a tough time recently, going through a divorce and losing her mother.

"I believe that left her extremely vulnerable," Wells said.

Register thought the man she met online had a legitimate business and did not think she was doing anything wrong, her son said.

"We do believe she thought she was helping out someone by doing this, offering her services professionally, in a legitimate manner," Wells said. "The documentation we have that we will turn over to her defense attorney will state very clearly that she was a scam victim."

Craigslist screen shot Son: Woman charged in online scam is victim, not criminal

Investigators said they believe Register, who works in the lending business, was a willing accomplice in the scam. She ordered items online and had them shipped to a fake address in Fayetteville, they said.

Police have found 2,630 checks so far that they have linked to the scam, with a total value of $7.1 million. They are still trying to determine whether the scam has ties to terrorist activity.

Register remains in the Cumberland County jail under a $77,000 secured bond.

Wells said he wanted to share his mother's story in hopes it might help others.

"These scams are real. They really are real and they are very easy to fall for," he said.


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  • nancimae2 Nov 5, 2010

    Sounds like she was a victim of stupidity. She had to know what was going on, but money clouds peoples' brains.

  • airbornemonty Nov 5, 2010

    Sorry but I don't believe the woman was duped, she did it all on her own and now her lame excuse? Nope, I don't believe it.

  • bmg379 Nov 5, 2010

    how does anyone fall for these scams still? We ran a guy out of our business one sat trying to pass a 3rd party official looking check.

  • avidreader Nov 5, 2010

    Nobody is responsible for anything they do anymore - it's always someone's fault - not theirs.

  • tsquaring Nov 5, 2010

    Nigeria. That was all she needed to know. Scam capital.

  • angimomma Nov 5, 2010

    Ignorance is no defense. End of story.

  • shortcake53 Nov 5, 2010

    A second grader knows that you cant get something for nothing. She may have been vulnerable, but thats different from being stupid. It never occured to her that something was wrong with this picture?? Puhleeese

  • nellbaby Nov 5, 2010

    ok then why the fake address? because she didn't know it was illegal? yeah right......y'all want to buy a gnome? he's real...LOL

  • busyb97 Nov 5, 2010

    Bull - she didn't know! How can you run something like that and NOT suspect...especially with all of the warnings like that out there. And if she "works in the lending business"....then she knew better!

  • North Carolina Home Nov 5, 2010

    """There ya' go. Trying to get sumthin' fer nuthin'. I tell you it is just like the 'publican party. They want their goobermint services but they don't want to pay for it. This women is like the face of the 'publican party in Cumberland County.""" gogreen

    Another stellar example of our failed public education system.