CHARLESTON --- The Salvation Army thought it had received a grand gift ahead of Christmas -- a $25,000 check. But the donation turned out to be an expensive hoax that might force the charity to cut back on winter assistance for the needy.
Investigators said Wednesday more than a dozen Charleston-area charities received fake checks before Christmas purporting to be gifts from Force Protection Inc., an armored vehicle manufacturer in Ladson.
None of the other charities cashed theirs, but the Salvation Army deposited its check and spent some of the money on food and toys for about 100 families.
The bank called two days before Christmas to say the check had bounced.
"It's a matter of counting on that so we would have a cushion," said Kiki Cooper, the director of development for the local chapter. She said the single check represented about 10 percent of what the Salvation Army typically raises during the holiday season.
Other charities called the company about the unsolicited donations and Force Protection sent out a memo Dec. 17 -- the same day the Salvation Army deposited its check -- saying it was the victim of a holiday scam.
Ms. Cooper said people are already offering to help offset the loss. "We've actually had a couple of people walking in dropping off $20."