Several recent check forgeries have led State Treasurer Don Stenberg to warn financial institutions and businesses to be cautious when cashing warrants from the State of Nebraska.
19-year-old Omaha woman was recently arrested and is in jail in
Douglas County for three counts of second degree forgery, according to Omaha
Deputy Douglas County Attorney Matthew Kuhse said Catalina Gomes allegedly passed a forged State of Nebraska warrant for $4,032 at a Walmart store in Omaha and a $4,431 State of Nebraska warrant at American National Bank in Omaha. She has also been accused of unsuccessfully attempting to pass a forged State of Nebraska warrant for $8,223 at American National Bank. The charges are Class III felonies and each is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The state of Nebraska did not lose any money in these transactions according to Stenberg.
The treasurer said businesses and financial institutions should be particularly alert to unusual circumstances when presented with State of Nebraska warrants and should familiarize themselves with unique features of state warrants that are difficult to duplicate including color, paper quality, and placement of key elements such as the treasurer's signature, State of Nebraska name, and image of the Capitol.
Omaha Police Det. Sandra Wylie of the Major Crimes Unit also cautioned Nebraskans to avoid cashing checks for strangers. "If you are approached by someone you don't know—or don't know well— to cash a check, and he or she is offering to pay you money to cash the check, think twice about it and don't go forward with it. Most likely the check is counterfeit," she said.
Another easy fix that makes it more difficult for criminals to counterfeit checks is to make sure employee paychecks are not stored in a common area. Residents are also warned to look-out for people lurking near mailboxes, as they may be copying information from checks that arrived in the mail. They may be replacing the check with the homeowners knowing their mail was tampered with.
Gomes has had no trial date set, and is being held in jail on a $15,000 bond.