Bank teller alerts police to money order scam
MONETTE -- A Rector man was arrested in Monette recently for trying to cash forged money orders at Liberty Bank. According to Monette Police Chief Brian Carmichael, Jon Brandon Merideth of Rector attempted to cash five $1,000 counterfeit money orders at the bank on Friday, Jan. 21.
Carmichael explained that Merideth apparently traveled to the Monette Liberty Bank branch after an attempt to cash the money orders at the Rector location was unsuccessful. According to Carmichael, teller Grace Waugh was immediately suspicious of the documents because of an email the bank had received regarding a recent wave of fake money orders and the absence of a watermark on Merideth's money orders.
"She called us and kept him busy until we arrived," Carmichael said. "He was immediately taken into custody after we got there."
Merideth appeared before Judge Keith Blackman on Monday, Jan. 24, and was charged with five counts of forgery and one count of criminal intent to commit theft. Bond was set at $3,000, and he is scheduled to appear for trial on March 11.
Following Merideth's arrest, Carmichael said he has been talking with members of the United States Secret Service regarding money order scams such as this one. In talking to members of the agency, he has learned that Internet con artists are profiting by contacting people and convincing them to take part in illegal activities involving counterfeit documents.
"These people send someone several fake money orders to cash and they are supposed to send back part of the money to them and keep the rest," Carmichael said. "Thousands of people in the United States have been victims of this scam."
Carmichael commended the actions of Waugh, noting that the bank could have suffered a loss of $5,000 had she not been alert enough to notice that the money orders were not authentic.
"This is the first time we've seen forgery of this scale come through Monette," he said.