Texoma businesses are the target of an intricate forgery crime. The Wichita County Treasurer's office has detected more than a handful of forged checks from the Wichita County Payroll Fund.
"We have some unfortunate folks here in this community who are taking advantage of some bad paper. I don't know how they're doing it but it's scary that they can do the things they can do with a computer," said Wichita County Treasurer Bob Hampton.
The first case occurred ten days ago at United Market Street, where an employee noticed inconsistency on a check from the Wichita County Payroll Fund. Since then, similar forged checks have been seen at Albertson's, King's Food and Double D Liquor Store in Wichita Falls.
Hampton believes the crooks have done their research because the checks are well-made.
"The checks were really constructed quite well. Very, very good imitation," he said.
The crooks show up to cash in the checks when a lot of people are around, typically in the late afternoon or night time. However, Hampton assures Wichita County residents that the county's money has not been affected.
"It doesn't lose any county money. Your tax dollars are safe, but merchant are the one that takes the hit," he said.
There are a few ways to tell if a check is legitimate.
"There are always two signatures on a county check and they are always signed. They are not typed," said Hampton.
The signatures must be of the County Treasurer and Auditor with a Friday issue date. The real checks are a certain color, used by banks to identify as county checks.
Check amounts range from low hundreds to a little over $1000. So far, total losses have amounted to about $5,000 but numbers could rise if businesses aren't careful. Until the crooks are caught, Hampton does not want Texomans to cash county payroll checks until further notice or call the Wichita County Treasurer's office to verify the check's authenticity.
Since the crimes were committed in the City of Wichita Falls, the Wichita Falls Police Department Financial Crimes Unit is investigating this case. Evidence has indicated that more than one individual may be committing this crime.
To verify a Wichita County payroll check, call Wichita County Treasurer's Office at (940) 766-8297.