CRANBURY, NJ – A would-be criminal will likely never forget the spelling of Cranbury, when after misspelling the township's name twice, cost them untold amounts of municipal cash.
According to Township Administrator Denise Marabello's report to the Township Committee Monday night, someone got a hold of the township's current checks, duplicated them, and attempted to cash them at out of state banks.
The township was alerted to the fraudulent activity by an alert bank employee, Marabello said.
“Whoever went to cash one of these fake checks that they made out – probably made out to fake people with fake ID's as well – the bank noticed that Township of Cranbury was spelled 'Cranbery' and that in the address it was 'Cranberry' and went, 'Hmmm, I don't think this is right,'” she said. “He (a bank employee) called us and said, 'Is this one of your checks?'”
Another fake check that was presented to an out of state bank for $2,500 made it through undetected and was cashed, however, the bank was made aware of the fraud in that instance and is crediting the township back the funds, Marabello said.
It is unclear how the checking information was obtained, according to Marabello.
This is not the first time this has happened.
A few years ago, instead of using checks, the perpetrators were wiring funds directly from the township's account, Marabello said.
“They were having money sent to Verizon, Comcast, paying bills with it,” she said.
The account number was changed at that point, however, this time the bank has advised account monitoring due to the thus-far limited number of checks presented for cashing.
“So far, they're thinking it's not worth changing everything, so we're going to keep a watch on it,” she said.
It is not known if any arrests have been made in the case or if there is any connection between the case from a few years ago, and this one.
“Whoever they were, they weren't very good at duplicating checks,” Marabello said, to a roar of laughter. “How do you spell it incorrectly two different ways?”
To which Committeeman Dan Mulligan replied, “Nobody said criminals were smart.”
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