DIAMOND SPRINGS (CBS13) ? Federal officials have broken what they say is part of a Nigerian Check scam. A Federal complaint obtained by CBS13 says that a Diamond Springs couple was helping to spread what Postal inspectors called "high quality" counterfeit postal and money orders.
The court documents say Susan Bickar and Tim Carlson were receiving packages from Benin, West Africa filled with money orders valued at $925.15 apiece. Customs officials had intercepted a package filled with 97 suspected counterfeit money orders in Los Angeles. All of them had an Albertson's logo on them with a total value of nearly $400,000. The fake money orders looked original and bore the U.S. Postal Service's logo on them and had the 11-digit serial number and required numeric codes; however, the watermarks and other security features were wrong. A second shipment out of Memphis contained even more counterfeits.
Postal Inspectors say that Bickar and Carlson would take the fake money orders and mail them via FedEx and UPS to people across the United States. Bickar claimed in a confession that she was doing this as a work-from-home job that she had found on the Internet She would send the checks and would get paid every week, depending on the number of checks she sent out. She allegedly received 3-4 parcels a week that contained these fake money grams from Lucky's and Albertson's. Her bosses claimed to be from the United Kingdom, but she suspected they were in Nigeria. She suspected that the checks were counterfeit, and even tried to cash one at a Wells Fargo. The bank told her the check was counterfeit.
Bickar's husband, Tim Carlson, says he was told to separate the packages and send them from several UPS boxes throughout the community so it wouldn't raise suspicion with anyone. Carlson says that was a "red flag" for him and he was suspicious, but since he was unemployed and Bickar was on disability, they needed additional income.
When Federal officials searched Bickar and Carlson's home, they found 340 fake checks totaling over $6 million dollars.