By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
A Box Elder woman has been accused of cashing a counterfeit cashier's check she received in an apparent African Internet scam and then trying to shortchange the scammers.
Mary S. Windyboy, 45, has been charged with forgery, issuing a bad check and theft. She is accused of depositing a cashier's check later found to be counterfeit, sending some of the money to a man in Nigeria and keeping the rest, a court document said.
Havre police Lt. Russ Ostwalt, who investigated the incident, said he believes Windyboy knew the check was counterfeit, and didn't send all of the money she was supposed to to the man in Nigeria under their agreement.
"I think she was contacted by these people but then ended up doing wrong by (depositing) he check," he said.
Windyboy, who was released on her own recognizance, could not be reached for comment.
Ostwalt said e-mail being used for scams like this is common. The case has been forwarded to the FBI for further investigation about the e-mail, he said.
Windyboy told Ostwalt during an interview in September that she had been contacted by people in Africa, who said "her name was located on a web site somewhere in Europe," the document said.
The person in Africa told Windyboy in an e-mail that some people needed to "get out of a country in Africa," the court document said.
Windyboy said she was supposed to cash a $9,500 check the person sent her and keep $1,500, the court document said. Instead, she sent $5,000, paid a $300 transaction fee, and kept $4,200, the document said.
Ostwalt said Thursday that Windyboy should have known she wasn't participating in a valid business deal. The people in Africa shouldn't have had to send the check to America, he said.
"Why didn't they just use the money themselves if they had the money?" he asked.
The court document said Windyboy told Ostwalt in an interview that she thought the people perhaps couldn't get to a bank. She also said she went along with the plan to get the $1,500, the document said.
Windyboy should have been able to tell the check was counterfeit, Ostwalt said.
"You can tell. There are some discrepancies in the check that she should have been able to ascertain it was not a valid check," he said. "Eventually it was caught by the bank."
The court document said Chevy Chase Bank of Maryland told Ostwalt in August that the logo on the check was 8 years old, and the check also had an old address.