A scammer in a Nigerian check scheme appears to have become the scammee, and an Astoria woman has been indicted in the case.
Thursday, the Clatsop County Grand Jury indicted Jeanne Reeves, 43, for first-degree aggregated theft, first-degree theft and laundering a monetary instrument.
The eight-month investigation began in October after Astoria Police were notified Reeves cashed a check for more than $85,000. The check appeared to come from a Canadian law firm in Calgary.
Due to a failure of internal controls at the bank, police said Friday, Reeves was allowed access to the money prior to the check clearing. By the time the bank became aware it was a forged check, Reeves allegedly had already withdrawn and spent most of the money.
"The investigation revealed that Reeves obtained the check through someone she met on Facebook and had not met in person," police said. "The person who sent Reeves the check was referred to repeatedly by Reeves as her fiancé."
Reeves is married.
Through the investigation, officers were able to establish that Reeves knew that the check was not legitimate.
"It appeared to be a complete forgery," Astoria Police said, who believe the case started as what is commonly referred to as a Nigerian scheme.
"A subject sends a large check with the agreement that you send a smaller amount to the sender of the check. The balance is to be kept by the person who is the target of the scam. These checks are almost always forgeries."
Reeves allegedly knew it was a scam and furthered the criminal effort without sending any money to the original perpetrator.
She was the sole beneficiary of the funds from the forged check.
When Reeves cashed the check, police say she signed a Foreign Collection Receipt that showed Reeves knew she had only been given provisional credit and was liable for the amount received.
Her arraignment date was not available as of press time.
This story is developing.