Police in Burnsville are asking for help finding a woman they say has been cutting bogus checks around the Twin Cities.
The department released surveillance photos of the suspect at various grocery and convenience stores on Thursday, saying she's passed at least 15 fraudulent checks "affecting numerous victims" since last year.
Burnsville police say the suspect hit merchants not only in their city, but also in Bloomington, St. Louis Park, Eagan, Plymouth and Cottage Grove. Authorities believe she drives a white "full-size SUV," which was also spotted in surveillance footage from a Cub Foods parking lot.
The circumstances of this case aren't clear, but according to Free Advice, checking schemes perpetrated by individuals (as opposed to an organized crime situation) often involve knowingly writing checks from an account that has insufficient funds to cover the cost of a purchase – or an account that's been closed.
As WalletHub points out, however, bounced checks are most often the result of carelessness and "aren't typically considered a crime" unless they were written on purpose.
But another form of check fraud, Free Advice says, involves the perpetrator changing routing or account numbers on a check – which would constitute forgery – to delay the time it takes banks to process it.
Yet another tactic scammers use is signing another person's name to a check, LawFirms.com says.
Anyone with information on the Burnsville suspect is asked to contact Detective Jeffrey Klingfus at 952-895-4635 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is check fraud really still an issue?
In a world of debit and credit cards, online payments and the like, how much of a problem can check fraud be?
According to Relyco, an e-payment solutions firm, the FBI reports that losses from check fraud top $18 billion on a yearly basis. The company also says the problem "continues to grow each year."
But a 2012 report from ABC News gives a slightly different take. According to the network, federal officials have reported a significant decline in checking scams.
The reason for the downward trend, ABC noted, was "the slow disappearance of checks" from routine transactions – in favor of debit cards and digital payment options.