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Group that Saves Animals Given Phony Donation

(3/7/2006)

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A group that takes care of animals was given a fake donation. It was for a very large sum of money. The check that they received in the mail was for $95, 000. The group depends on donations to help the animals. They were very happy when they got the check.

Ed Stewart is very thankful when somebody writes a check for the animal group. He works for them. The animal group is called PAWS. They take care of animals that used to perform and other rescued animals. They have elephants, lions, bears and lots of other animals at their shelters. They depend on donations to help feed and take care of the animals.

There was a note that came with the donation in the mail. The note was short but looked official. It looked like it was from a company called O'Reilly Media. The note said that the donation was to help PAWS.

PAWS took the check to their bank. They wanted to add the money to their bank account. The people who work at the bank said that the check looked real. The bank deposited the check into the PAWS account. Then PAWS started spending the money. They bought equipment, paid for animal food and paid some of their bills.

A few days later PAWS got a surprise. Their bank called to tell them that the check was not real. The check bounced and there was no longer $95,000 in their account. The money that PAWS thought they had was gone.

PAWS contacted the firm that they thought donated the money. They learned that the company did not send the check and was also a victim of the scam. They told PAWS that they did not know who sent the phony check.

The publishing firm also talked to a local news station. They said that PAWS was not the first organization to receive a fake check. They told a reporter that several dozen organizations had received phone donations in their name. The publishing firm said it has notified authorities in the United States and Canada. The phony donation to PAWS had a Canadian postmark.

Once an organization gets a fake check they get a second letter a few days later. They are told in the second letter that part of the money needs to be sent back. The organizations usually get the second letter before their checks bounce. They send money back and then find out that their donated checks have bounced.

PAWS did not receive a second letter from the crooks before their check bounced. PAWS did not actually lose money. But now they have to explain to people why their bills are not really paid.

(This was adapted from an original story provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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