Police warn of fraudulent travelers checks - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Police warn of fraudulent travelers checks

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- A number of small business owners, specifically retailers are out hundreds of dollars after receiving fraudulent checks, specifically traveler's checks in the City of Dubuque.

Police say several businesses in the area received them from a man this month. Police say the checks were issued by Thomas Cook Mastercard. The suspect seems to target businesses without surveillance, and has also passed fraudulent checks in Galena, IL. Businesses report a white male, gray hair, 5'6" to 5'10", 175 pounds, 50-60 years of age, with a northeastern American accent and possibly of Italian (or similar) decent.

At this time, it appears that all of the transactions occurred on February 19th, 2011, and aren't confirmed as fraudulent until the checks are processed by the victim's financial institution. Thus far have had sequential numbers: PB73-565-873, PB73-565-874 and PB73-565-875. The name on the checks appears to be first name "Paul" and last name similar to "Avidsen".

Some of the businesses include Flowers on Main, Nearly New Boutique and Calico Bean on Bluff Street.

''It's bulk good store. We carry dry goods, soup mixes, dip mixes, spice, candies, snacks, sprinkles and our delicious homemade peanut butter," said Calico Bean owner Teri Connely. "We have a lot of local, regular shopper but we do have a huge tourist based cliental."

But one man caught an employees eye, after the fact. Owners say it was a busy day, the day the man came in. He spent $50 worth of goods, then paid for it with a $100 travelers check. They later discovered it was fraudulent.

"We questioned the check but it was a London issued bank. Which made us think that it's odd appearance was because it was from out of the country," Connely said. "Some people refused it, some people respected it depending on how much cash they had in the drawer at the time."

She says when con artist target small businesses it can have a big effect.

"It's harder for a small business because we don't have the insurance and we don't have this and we don't have that. And $100 could be a day of sales for us. So it does take a blow," Connely said.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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