Police say 48-year-old Marie Elizabeth Register of Fayetteville printed and mailed 235 counterfeit checks valued at more than $500,000. Investigators say the scam targeted people selling items on eBay and Craigslist.
"When it came time to pay the sellers, what she would do is - like say she owed them $100 - she might would send them a check for say $500 or $600 - whatever the amounts were - ask them to cash the checks to go ahead and take their money out and return the cash to her," police spokesman Dan Grubb said.
Police say Register ran her operation out of her home in a mobile home park on Caskey Drive off McArther Road.
"What she should do is there were several printed checks that either they mailed her or that she helped create fake bank accounts," Grubb said.
Register required sellers to cash checks valued at more than what she owed, keep payment for the items purchased and send the balance back to her via Western Union or Moneygram. She would then mail the cash to Nigeria. A total of 2,630 checks have been identified as printed with a total value of $7.1 million.
Register is charged with two counts of obtaining property by false pretenses, two counts of obtaining property greater than $100,000 by false pretenses, four counts of forgery of instrument and possession of more than five counterfeit checks.
ABC11 Eyewitness News learned that Register met her Nigerian contact in an online chat room.
Now, police are trying to determine if that contact has terrorist ties.
"We're not 100 percent certain that the people that she was sending the money to have ties to terrorism, but most certainly it's on our radar now," said Grubb. "And of course we'll be sharing information with other agencies as well regarding this case."
Register remains in the Cumberland County Jail on a $77,000 bond.