ROCKLAND, Maine — A local woman has been summoned by police who say she cashed more than $40,000 in fraudulent checks from get-rich-quick mail and e-mail scams.
Audry Dearborn, 37, of Rockland was issued a summons Thursday for felony counts of negotiating worthless instruments and forgeries, according to Detective Russell Thompson of the Rockland Police Department.
The charge on the Class B crime, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, applies because of the amounts of money involved, Thompson said. Police are saying that Dearborn “negotiated a worthless instrument” because she knowingly presented a check that she knew was a fake as if it was a good check.
Dearborn told police she “really didn’t know” the checks were fakes, Thompson said.
Thompson said he started investigating the case after a city bank, which he preferred not to identify, approached the detective for help looking into Dearborn’s checking habits.
Dearborn allegedly had deposited a check for more than $30,000 that she received in the mail along with a letter that said she had won a lottery from a Canadian awning company.
“Most people who get the checks simply throw them away and destroy them,” said Deputy Chief Wally Tower of the Rockland Police Department. “Instead, [Dearborn] deposited them.”
While others, especially the elderly, have been known to unknowingly deposit these checks, Dearborn’s case is different, Thompson said.
“If it happens once to somebody, and they get fooled into it, that’s one thing,” Thompson said. “But this was a situation where there were a number of times she deposited checks that the bank didn’t end up honoring because they were fraudulent.”
Scam artists often use an actual company’s name and bank routing numbers on these checks, he said, and then mail them out to unsuspecting recipients.
“It’s a numbers game to them,” Thompson said.
Thompson said Dearborn’s initial court appearance on the charges would be in April.