Liberty Township’s fiscal officer recently discovered a $134,000 forged check that had been cashed by a used-car dealer in Great Britain.
At a glance, the forged check looked authentic to fiscal officer Nancy Denutte, she said. It included the signatures of all three township trustees.
However, it did seem suspicious that a check was issued to a used-car dealer in Britain from the township. “I had a check with everyone’s signatures on it,” she said.
“’Who is this?’ was the big thing that came to mind,” Denutte said when she first saw the canceled check.
The township has turned the illegitimate check over to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office for investigation.
Denutte started as the new fiscal officer April 1 this year and hadn’t really become familiar with the organizations with which the township does business.
Like any good accountant, the first thing she did was reconcile the check to the township’s bank statement. “The check number was one that we haven’t even gotten up to (in the sequence),” she said.
The check was cashed by the Royal Bank of Scotland who sent it to the Delaware County Bank. “How could our bank possibly let that check go through?” Denutte said. “I contacted our bank. The money was back in our account the next day.”
According to Denutte, the creation of the forged check and transaction possibly had all taken place online. It’s believed the trustees’ signatures came from signed public documents on the township’s website. “Banks don’t look at the checks,” she said. “They look at the account numbers. To keep it from happening again, we have taken steps to make sure it doesn’t.”
The township now uses “Positive Pay,” a service of the Delaware County Bank. Each month the township sends list of written checks to the bank. “If the check is not on the list, they don’t pay the check,” Denutte said.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.