During the holidays the Salvation Army in Charleston received a check for $25,000. To what seemed like a perfect time to help families in need, the charity cashed the check and provided food and toys for around 100 families. Captain Anthony Juliana is head of the Lowcountry Salvation Army and says they had no reason to suspect what they would find next.
“They ran it through in the deposit process, there was magnetic ink and all that sort of thing. The check itself was real, the problem was it was attached to an account that had been closed. So, there wasn’t any indication from the bank or even when we received it that it would have been anything other than a legitimate check,” says Juliana.
However, it wasn’t a legitimate check. The check writer forged the check to appear to be from Ladson-based armored vehicle maker Force Protection Industries. The company had no idea.
“The folks at Force Protection are not the ones to be pointing the finger at. Somebody somewhere had access to information that they used in a way that discredited them, and not just hurting the Salvation Army, but really hurt the people that we were going to help,” says Juliana.
After this incident, Juliana says they may have to scale back aid just to catch up with the money lost.
“A hit like this means that money that we had would have allocated further on down the road to helping people pay their rent, pay their utilities, isn’t going to be there. That’s the challenging part, so for us to turn around and say ‘okay, now what?’, yeah there’s a couple of things. We may call people when we get a large check again,” says Juliana.
About a dozen fraudulent checks were delivered to Lowcountry charities for the holidays, but the Salvation Army was the only one to cash its check.
The Salvation Army assisted almost 8,000 people in the Lowcountry during the holidays.