Citizens For A Better Norwood

Monday, July 27, 2009

Norwood woman arrested after falling for Nigerian scam

According to today’s Enquirer, Norwood resident Tamika Thomas, age 28, has been arrested by Evendale police for theft and forgery after following instructions in a letter from Nigeria telling her she had won $2,490 in a sweepstakes. All she had to do was accept and cash a check in that amount and send half of it back to Nigeria. The Evendale Woodforest National Bank cashed the Bank of New York Mellon check 4-5 days after Thomas deposited it in her account, and she promptly sent half the amount back to Africa as instructed.

Of course, the $2,490 check was no good, the bank is out the money, and Tamika Thomas is being tried this Friday on criminal charges that could send her to prison for a maximum of 2 years. An attorney for the Evendale bank told the Enquirer that his bank doesn’t necessarily wait for checks to clear before handing over the cash. WHAT??? He went on to say that if the depositor endorses the check, “they’re responsible for the legitimacy of the check.”

So many questions. Are any of our readers as surprised as we are that the Evandale bank cashed the check before it cleared? Do other banks do this? If so, do they inform all customers upfront that even though cash from a deposited check is made available in their accounts, it doesn’t mean the check is good? Was Tamika Thomas ever informed in writing that she could not rely on the validity of checks even after her bank placed the funds in her account 4-5 days after deposit? Isn’t it true that banks now have the electronic capability to clear checks in a matter of hours? How strong do you think the case is against Tamika Thomas? Are there any banking experts in the house who can shed some light on this?