Ex-Minnesota State Worker Focus of Probe of Fraud Aimed at Businesses

January 20, 2010

State investigators are trying to determine the scope of a check fraud scheme that they say could count hundreds of Minnesota businesses among its victims.

The woman at the center of the investigation is a former employee of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, they said. She was arrested in November but has not been charged. She is not in custody and no longer works for the state.

Authorities said victims could include businesses that sent a check to the Department of Labor and Industry between Jan. 1 and Nov. 18 last year to pay fines imposed by the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration Compliance Unit. A total of 759 businesses paid fines during that time frame.

On Jan. 19, officials with the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force notified those businesses, asking them to examine their accounts and look for suspicious activity.

According to officials with the task force and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the woman made copies of some checking account numbers while she was at work and used those numbers to create fraudulent checks.

Authorities believe she had several accomplices who cashed the checks at various businesses, and that the checks were each written for less than $1,000.

Task force investigators said they need the businesses to come forward because much of the evidence in the case was allegedly destroyed before they could collect it from the former state employee.

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