Banks warned to watch out for phony state checks

Posted: Sunday, January 05, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Alaska's commissioner of revenue is warning banks to question any large state checks made out to individuals.

The warning comes after Anchorage banks reported cashing carefully crafted phony checks of more than $46,000 in late December, the state Department of Revenue said Friday.

''We're advising banks and other businesses to ask for photo identification and to question large checks made out to individuals,'' said Revenue Commissioner Bill Corbus.

A total of 14 checks, all dated Dec. 24, were accepted in Anchorage between Dec. 27 and Dec. 30.

Larry Persily, deputy commissioner of revenue, said it was the second time in six months that counterfeit state checks have turned up in Anchorage.

In July, more than $26,000 in fake state checks were passed off as the real thing. Most of the checks were passed at check-cashing businesses, Persily said.

The Department of Revenue learned about the most recent string of counterfeit checks Thursday, when KeyBank, where the state banks, called and said it had some checks that didn't look right.

KeyBank faxed copies to the state. They looked ''pretty good,'' Persily said. He guessed the fakes were made by someone who has a computer, a laser printer and a copy of a real state check.

All of the December checks were written on the state's general fund account and the Anchorage Trial Courts trust account that, among other things, is used to return bail money. ''These are not payroll checks,'' Persily said. ''These are the kind of checks the state would use to pay its bills.''

All of the fake checks were made out to individuals, Persily said. One was for $3,881.38; the 13 others were each for $3,261.26.

''We would like to reward this person's entrepreneurial spirit with a jail sentence,'' he said.

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