A check writing scam that has the characteristics of professional criminals has hit four local businesses. Discovered late last week by Linda Watts, coordinator of the McCulloch County Hot Check Program, the bogus checks were passed on Nov. 8-9, 2001 and were written for various kinds of merchandise. “Each one of the checks appears to be an actual bank document,” said Ms. Watts. “The individual who made these checks took great care to replicate them as close to actual checks as possible.” The checks passed at four local businesses were identical except for slight transpositions in account numbers and routing numbers and the names were varied slightly. The checks were made to appear to be from an actual bank that has branches in Corpus Christi and Austin and appeared with three different names. The names, addresses and telephone numbers on the checks were all actual names and numbers of persons who live in Texas, but followup calls to collect the debts have led officials with the County Attorney’s office to disconnected numbers or random individuals. According to Ms. Watts, the main problem with finding the culprit of the scam centers around the lack of verifiable identification that should be part of each check that is written. In each case, no form of identification i.e. driver’s license, was taken down for verification. “The majority of checks being brought to our office are from out-of-town individuals and the checks do not have any identifiers,” said Ms. Watts. “Businesses here in town need to be careful when accepting checks and be sure to get some sort of official identification when processing their sale.” The case is being referred to the appropriate law enforcement office which will investigate the crime and proceed with prosecution.