Treasurer Stenberg Warns of Check Cashing Scam

Treasurer Don Stenberg

Several recent check forgeries have led State Treasurer Don Stenberg to warn financial institutions and businesses to be cautious when cashing warrants from the State of Nebraska.

A19-year-old Omaha woman was recently arrested and is in jail inDouglas County for three counts of second degree forgery, according to Omahapolice.

DeputyDouglas County Attorney Matthew Kuhse said Catalina Gomes allegedly passed a forgedState of Nebraska warrant for $4,032 at a Walmart store in Omaha and a $4,431State of Nebraska warrant at American National Bank in Omaha. She has also been accused of unsuccessfully attempting to pass a forged State of Nebraska warrant for$8,223 at American National Bank. The charges are Class III felonies and eachis punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The state of Nebraska did not lose any money in these transactions according to Stenberg.

The treasurer said businesses and financial institutions should be particularlyalert to unusual circumstances when presented with State of Nebraska warrantsand should familiarize themselves with unique features of state warrants thatare difficult to duplicate including color, paper quality, and placement of keyelements such as the treasurer's signature, State of Nebraska name, and imageof the Capitol.

OmahaPolice Det. Sandra Wylie of the Major Crimes Unit also cautioned Nebraskans to avoid cashing checks forstrangers. "If you are approached by someone you don't know--or don't know well--to cash a check, and he or she is offering to pay you money to cash thecheck, think twice about it and don't go forward with it. Most likely the checkis counterfeit," she said.

Another easy fix that makes it more difficult for criminals to counterfeit checks is to make sure employee paychecks are not stored in a common area. Residents are also warned to look-out for people lurking near mailboxes, as they may be copying information from checks that arrived in the mail. They may be replacing the check with the homeowners knowing their mail was tampered with.

Gomes has had no trial date set, and is beingheld in jail on a $15,000 bond.