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Police say woman used scam to go on spending spree

FARMINGTON — A Pilot Knob woman received a scam letter in the mail promising $50,000 if she would cash a roughly $3,000 check and return the funds as a fee. Now she faces felony stealing charges after she passed the check at a local business and spent the money.

Police were called to a retail business on Nov. 18 to investigate a theft report. The manager said a clerk cashed a check for a woman a few weeks earlier. When it was learned the check was fraudulent the store contacted the woman and insisted she return the funds. When she refused the store called police.

Records show the woman received a letter regarding a “prize winning payout” in the amount of $50,000 from a company apparently located in Brighton, Ma. The letter said the woman was a winner in a United Kingdom and North America Consumer Promotion drawing. The letter and subsequent scam was nothing new — similar in many ways to fraudulent offers often received in the mail or electronically.

But police say the 33-year-old woman, likely knowing it was a scam, decided to commit her own fraud. She attempted to cash the check at a local bank, and was told she should take it to a branch of the bank who had apparently issued the check. The woman later told police that since there was not a branch of that national bank in the immediate area, she opted to take the check to a local business which provided check cashing services.

When the small retailer and service store cashed the check, the woman took the more than $3,000 and spent it. The letter accompanying the scam had asked that she forward those funds to the consumer promotion company to cover a fee when claiming her $50,000 prize.

While she should have realized that the prize offer was likely a scam and not acted on it, police say the woman also likely knew that cashing the check and spending the money was not a reasonable option either.

But she did cash the check and spend the money. And when the business called her asking that she repay the funds she informed the manager that she had already spent the money. At that point the business manager called the police.

Police Chief Rick Baker said the department investigated the woman’s actions and submitted reports to the prosecuting attorney’s office seeking charges of felony stealing. He said the investigation revealed the woman was not a victim in the action of cashing the check — but instead was looking to procure cash by way of the fake check.

Doug Smith is a reporter for the Daily Journal. You can reach him at 573-756-8927, or at

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