Forgery in the Hub City on the Rise - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/8/03

Forgery in the Hub City on the Rise

Forgery costs Lubbock businesses $600,000 a year. Costs that are ultimately passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. One of the most recent cases, an attempted forgery just last month, and it was all caught on tape.

Among the shoppers at Target on June 6th, were three suspected thieves. Surveillance video was just released by the Lubbock Police Department taken inside the Lubbock Target store a month ago. It shows three Hispanic women trying to purchase more than $500 worth of merchandise with stolen checks. Trying to pass themselves off as Mandi Burkett. "The cashier wouldn't take the check because she knew it wasn't me," says the 20-year-old. Burkett works at Mardel's Christian book store.

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Just a few hours before the surveillance video was recorded at Target, Burkett's purse, checkbook and wallet were stolen from her locker in a breakroom of the bookstore. "You feel invaded," says Burkett.

Police say after the theft, the three women tried to buy clothing, make-up, jewelry and other merchandise. An unauthorized shopping spree, thwarted by a circumspect cashier. But since then, police believe these women have passed more of Burkett's checks successfully, at places that aren't checking ID's.

That's the problem. While some businesses vigilantly check identification with every purchase, hundreds of others don't. That's upsetting to Lubbock shopper Janice Austin. "I prefer that they check, because there is so much forgery going on," says Austin.

But others, like Frank Reyna, say they've been offended when asked to present two or more forms of identification. Still, Reyna believes it's for the best. "I wouldn't want someone cashing one of my checks," says Reyna.

Burkett knows first hand the hardships of having her identity stolen. She says for her sake, and for everyone's peace of mind, identification checks should be required.

Police are still trying to get businesses to use the fingerprint system. You just roll the tip of your finger across the ink pad and stamp your check with your print. Police offer these ink pads to businesses free of charge, but the system has never caught on.

Those three women are Hispanic and range in age from their early 20's to their early 30's. If you have any information that could help police solve this crime, please call the Lubbock Crime Line at (806) 741-1000.

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