Authorities say several businesses in the area have been scammed in a check-cashing scheme based in Columbia.
Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Greg Newsome said several businesses in Richmond County cashed checks for people in the past month and later found the checks to be bad.
Investigator Newsome said the checks, with an account name listed under Clyburn Landscaping on Pickens Street in downtown Columbia, have been presented, cashed and returned from the bank stating there were insufficient funds in the account.
He said the Big Tree Package Store on Washington Road, John's Party Center on Mike Padgett Highway and the S&T Food Store on Tobacco Road reported that the bad checks had been returned.
The investigator said officials found that someone rented an office in Columbia, set up a bank account and sent people to cash the checks.
He said the company never existed, and the listed telephone number has been disconnected.
Checks received at the Big Tree Package Store show amounts of almost $500 each and were made out to individuals with North Augusta addresses, according to records received from the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
Investigator Newsome said that, so far, at least $1,500 has been gained from the scam. He said those responsible may be charged with theft by deception.
Businesses that have cashed the checks marked with the fake business or receive them returned and marked "NSF" should call the Richmond County Sheriff's Office at 821-1080 or 821-1020.
Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or firstname.lastname@example.org.