Postal Crackdown On Phony Checks

Wednesday, October 3rd 2007, 11:22 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) More than $2.1 billion in counterfeit checks have been seized and 77 people arrested in an international crackdown on scams, the U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday.

The crackdown involved officials of the United States, Canada, Nigeria, United Kingdom and Netherlands, the Postal Inspection Service said at a briefing.

``There is no room in the mail for any of these phony come-ons,'' Postmaster General John Potter said.

Most of the cons start with e-mails telling of an inheritance or lottery win and ask the victim to help bring the money to the United States. The victim is asked to cash a check and send part of the money back to the person sending it, explained Postal Inspector Greg Campbell.

Then that person disappears with the money and the original check bounces, leaving the victim with a loss.

Retired people have lost their next eggs and young families have been defrauded of their savings for a home, Postmaster General John Potter said.

Many of the cases originate in the Netherlands, where West African con artists operate from Internet cafes, said Johan Van Hartskamp of the Amsterdam police.

In what he called ``Operation Dutch Treat,'' police have arrested 60 people in the Netherlands. Three have been extradited to the United States, four more are being extradited and the rest are being prosecuted in the Netherlands, he said.

Ibrahim Lamorde, director of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said the problem is monumental and ``will only be surmounted through global efforts.''