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North Olmsted Woman Arrested in ‘Nigerian Check Scheme’

By Lorrie Taylor

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio —
Assistant County Prosecutor James Gutierrez is about to do what no man or woman has ever done before in a Cuyahoga County courtroom. He’s taking on one of the typically nameless, faceless people who has been accused of participating in the old ‘Nigerian Check Scheme’.

“We never get these people because usually these scams are all over seas, are all out of the country, all by computer,” said Gutierrez.

51-year-old Sandra Vandevelde of North Olmsted has been indicted on 31 charges that mostly involve check fraud.

According to the indictment, Vandevelde managed the enterprise with two unknown people between June and September of 2009. She’s accused of posting job offers on Craig’s List, advertising for employees who would manage the trio’s business affairs while they were out of the country.

The indictment says Vandevelde’s partners would send the victims counterfeit checks and tell them to keep $200 for their salary. They would then forward the remaining money to the 51-year-old North Olmsted woman so she could take her own cut.

Investigators say Vandevelde sent the remaining cash to whomever she was working with. Gutierrez claims the woman met her alleged partners online at a Christian dating service.

“We had a victim from Bay Town, Texas who cashed two counterfeit checks and then was victimized for approximately $6,900,” said Gutierrez.

He claims Vandevelde mailed nearly 600 checks across the country.

Investigators know of 142 transactions over a three month period that generated about $56,000.

Gutierrez claims investigators were close to solving the case when fortune smiled. He says a UPS driver who was familiar with the ‘Nigerian Check Scheme’ was approached by Vandevelde at a UPS lock box.

“The UPS guy was there and he was getting his delivery out when this individual came up and gave him a number of envelopes,” said Gutierrez.

According to Gutierrez, the UPS driver became suspicious, took Vandevelde’s license plate number, and contacted police.

Vandevelde will be arraigned in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court January 31, 2011.

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January 19, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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