Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spidey Cents

I work in a bank when I'm not at Neptune, so I know that check fraud is, unfortunately, common. Desperate times call for desperate measures and writing bad checks to get necessary items is not at all rare. Check fraud is also a criminal act, and those that participate in it can face serious penalties.

Recently a fellow comic book retailer in nearby Illinois, Jamie Graham of Graham Cracker Comics, had someone commit check fraud in his store in order to obtain a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #2. The fraudster also did something similar at Graham's other store to purchase X-Men #1. The employees at the store did verify ID and do what they thought was right. As a fellow retailer I know that when you have a customer in the store who is willing to shell out good money for a pricey item like these two comics, you do what you can to accommodate the shopper, including accepting a check. But when/if that check goes bad it can be VERY damaging. Now Graham is out both the money and two very valuable comic books. He has since decided to no longer accept checks at his stores - something I do not blame him for at all. Especially since banks are becoming less and less likely to verify the validity of a customer check, or even the account it is written from. Banks do sell equipment retail stores can use to electronically post and electronically verify checks - so it's no wonder they are deciding not to give that information out for free. I feel for this retailer, who is just trying to make a profit in his business and now has taken a serious hit due to someone's unethical and desperate behavior. It is also unfortunate because now customers who are honest people cannot use checks to make purchases at Graham's stores - one bad apple spoils the bunch, as they say. Hopefully Graham doesn't have to turn too many customers away because of this new policy.

What happened to the fraudser? Acording to ICv2's article, "A judge sentenced Scott Meherg, 28, to seven years in prison after he pleaded guilty to using a forged check to buy a high grade copy of Amazing Spider-Man #2 from Graham Cracker Comics in Naperville, Illinois. Meherg was also ordered to pay $980.99 in restitution for the comic, which was not recovered." If Meherg was this desperate, there's a good chance Graham will never see the money or comic book returned. Sure, Meherg gets jail time, that's what happens when one commits fraud, but it still doesn't help this store owner.


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