Internet Dating and Romance Scams

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Fayetteville woman arrested in $7 million online scam

A staff report

A Fayetteville woman is accused of helping bilk people out of $7 million in cash and property in a fraud apparently connected to Nigeria, police said Tuesday.

Marie Elizabeth Register, 48, of the 4500 block of Caskey Court, allegedly printed and mailed 235 counterfeit checks totaling about $503,000 to people selling items on eBay and Craigslist, said Dan Grubb, a police spokesman.

Register used the counterfeit checks to purchase items from the online advertising sites, according to Grubb.

Warrants say she printed fake checks in the name of companies in Raleigh, Cary, Atlanta and Omaha, Neb., using information from their accounts with Wachovia bank and First National Bank of Omaha.

When Register used the scheme to buy an item, Grubb said, she paid for it with a forged check made out for an amount greater than the selling price. She had the seller wire back to her the amount of the overpayment, he said.

When Register received the wired money, she mailed the cash to an unnamed contact in Nigeria, Grubb said.

“She received $75,000 in cash back to date that was sent to Nigeria,” he said. “We have receipts accounting for $68,000 of that. She claims, and we believe based on the investigation so far, that she did not keep any of the money. We are still waiting for Western Union to send the receipts for everything they have to account for the $7,000 difference.”

Register did not receive the items she bought, Grubb said.

“She gave the sellers a non-existent address in Fayetteville, so when the items were sent and rejected, she never asked about it, and the sellers apparently never followed up since she never did, so no one officially has the items,” he said.

The police are investigating the Nigerian connection, Grubb said.

The Police Department is not saying why Register would commit the fraud without keeping any of the money or items for herself.

Police say the scam generated 2,630 checks valued at $7.1 million worldwide.

Court papers say Register moved to Fayetteville in April and lives with her adult son.

They say the Secret Service is pursuing a federal investigation.

Register is charged with two counts of obtaining property by false pretenses, two counts of obtaining property greater than $100,000 by false pretenses, four counts of forgery of instrument, and possession of more than five counterfeit instruments. A counterfeit check is a counterfeit instrument.

Her bail was set at $77,000 on Monday, court documents say.

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November 8, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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