Mississippi State Auditor Phil Bryant says his office and the Secret Service thwarted a computer purchasing scam involving counterfeit Grenada School District checks.
No arrests have been made, but officials believe a Nigerian using the alias Mike Holland used fake school district checks to order $300,000 of computer equipment.
The equipment was supposed to have been delivered to a storage facility in Laurel, Miss., but Secret Service agents ensured the deliveries weren’t made, said Mickey Nelson, special agent in charge of the Jackson Secret Service office.
Bryant and Nelson announced the investigation during a news conference Jan. 10, saying the crimes occurred in October. They delayed an announcement because they were hoping to make an arrest. They are now seeking help from the public in finding the suspect.
Buddy Pender, superintendent of Grenada schools, said the district “didn’t lose a penny” in the crimes. He said BancorpSouth told the district’s business manager that the schools’ account had become overdrawn.
“We knew that couldn’t be right,” Pender said.
He said the checks were convincing duplicates of those used by the school district, and his signature was forged perfectly. “It was not just some fly-by-night kind of deal,” he said.
Bryant said the case shows why school districts and other public entities should reconcile their accounts regularly. Grenada school officials had done that, making it easier to spot unexpected withdrawals, he said.