Hot Checks Burn Small Businesses

Thursday, February 22nd 2007, 9:14 pm
By: News On 6

Pryor Police have got their hands full with a string of bounced checks in their community. The total is now more than $12,000 and investigators expect the amount to go up. News On 6’s Omar Villafranca spoke to a Pryor small business owner where several of the bad checks were written. That owner says hot checks have got his business and several other small businesses in hot water.

Last week, Pryor Police arrested April Partsch for fraud. Detectives say she wrote hot checks in several towns to buy a riding lawn mower, a small tractor and other goods. In total, more than $12,000 and Pryor Police say the amount keeps going up.

A bounced check won't break a big store like Wal-Mart, but they do hurt small businesses. Just ask Chris Hassinger, who got burned for more than $1,100 at Pryor Lumber. Even after a few weeks, Chris says it takes time to recoup his loss. "14 to 21 days if the customer knows they wrote the hot check. Some we've been sitting on for months and months that we'll never collect."

Getting money back from hot checks does take time, so some businesses choose to show the names of customers who still owe money. "We post them up by the registers and pretty much everyone in the world to see," says Chris Hassinger.

Pryor Police Sgt. Brent Crittenden says bad check cases take longer because of the paperwork involved. The dollar amount also makes a difference. Under $500 is a misdemeanor, but over $500 is a felony. "The crime is when you knowingly know there is no money and you deliberately write the check and willfully try to defraud the people out of their merchandise."

Pryor Police say they're still getting calls concerning the April Partsch case and they expect more checks to file in.

Omar spoke with April Partsch and she says she was expecting a large IRS return to be deposited in her account and didn't expect to bounce the checks.