The Mysterious Counterfeiter

The Clue in the Check Register

The Clue in the Check Register

You are driving along the busy freeway at a handsome clip rotating the day’s doings like a waterwheel.

Up on your tail rides a pick-up truck or a Honda Accord or a BMW, driven by a male in a hurry. Before you can move to the side, the driver makes a dramatic yank around you, accelerates, and then moves back into the fast flow, almost cutting you off.

Where is a highway patrol officer when you need one?

You are inching along through the congested intersection of after-school education, repeatedly evaluating your business future like a neurotic cockatiel stuck in a small cage who checks her reflection in the tiny mirror fifty times a day. You are balancing your checkbooks and paying your bills. You discover that counterfeiters have compromised your account.

Where was the bank? Why did it cash two checks without your signature?

Last month, I turned on my laptop and summoned up my QuickBooks account to print a standard profit and loss report before I had my glass of Zinfandel. I find that studying my profit and loss reports these days helps to create the sense of pending tragedy that a glass of red wine on a cloudy June evening soothes. The pathos of a small business fighting for survival in a ruthless economy further compels me to add some Drunken Goat Spanish cheese to a plate with crackers.

Content with wine and cheese, I open my online business banking account to sync the two programs.

Something is fishy. Where is Carolyn Keene when I need her?

As a child, I read every Nancy Drew Mystery book and fancied myself a Nancy Drew twin (without the blond hair and blue convertible), so I studied the photocopies of my canceled checks. Counterfeits!

Made out to a woman from the Merry Maids Co. and cashed against my account at a Fred Meyers store in Portland, Oregon, the two checks were U.S. Bank checks.  I do not bank with U.S. Bank.

Down to my bank I went the next morning.
Yes, the checks were bogus.
Yes, my account must be closed.

Why would you cash checks against my account that were not from this bank? Without my signature? Not from my business?

Mrs. Sabraw, do you think that the banking industry is able to look at every check?

Well, yes I did.

Mrs. Sabraw, move on. Take a breath. Life is short. Don’t sweat the small things…

You are driving along Highway 680, heading to Danville to have lunch with someone at one of your favorite restaurants, Café Esin, an intimate spot with homemade desserts.

The phone rings and you punch the talk key.

Is this Cheri Sabraw?

Yes it is.

This is Officer Johnson from the Portland Police Department. I’m calling to inform you  that we caught Ms. Smith, the woman who wrote two checks against your account. She has confessed; just thought you might like to know. She was part of a large counterfeiting ring here in the Pacific Northwest.

Wow. Where is the crackerjack detective when you need her?

Right where she should be: in Portland, Oregon doing her job and doing it well, just like Nancy Drew.

About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
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9 Responses to The Mysterious Counterfeiter

  1. Ellen says:

    Great story…I am sure we have all experienced many of the incidents that you describe. You were very fortunate to have “crackerjack detective” in your hometown. I thought the cockatiel reference was fabulous…I own one! 😉

  2. Cheri says:

    Thank you, Ellen.

    Cockatiel’s are clownish birds, aren’t they?
    When my dad had a heart attack, we bought him a cockatiel and named it after his heart surgeon, Louie.

    That bird provided great humor during dad’s recovery. And of course, they both did a lot of talking.

  3. andreaskluth says:

    How many times have you heard ‘people fall into two categories…’?

    But they do:

    Some (like me) assume that everybody is incompetent and will screw up and doesn’t care. We are surprised when anything works right at all. We have evidence: Your bank, which is exactly like my bank, my health insurer, the IRS, and everybody else.

    Others (like my wife) assume that most people are competent and do their job well and care, and are surprised when there is a mistake. I think they have less evidence but they do have some: Officer Johnson.

    Unrelated: I have been building a theory based on my US highway observations: Pick-up trucks are the most aggressive (unless driven by Latinos, who tend to drive the safest). SUVs the most arrogant. Old, crappy American cars the most reckless. Male drivers are dangerously aggressive, females much more likely to be yapping on their cell phones.

    Best cars to share a lane with: Volvos, vans and other cars that are likely to move entire families. They have more to lose.

  4. Cheri says:

    All or none, hey? Either rose colored or grey shades?

    In addition:

    Bureaucracies (school districts, banks, courts, agencies) seem to have a higher rate of incompetent people working within.

    Private companies ( who stand to go out of business for incompetence) have a lower rate.

    What about those who drive comfortable Japanese smaller SUV’s, the type you can take a family to the library in and transport your dog to the veterinarian, but which has seat warmers and a GPS? What about those people? 😀

  5. andreaskluth says:

    Those people are by far the most dangerous of all: savvy, perspicacious, razor-sharp in their wit.

    I tailgate them.

  6. andreaskluth says:

    Wrong word altogether (tailgate). What’s that American word for driving so close that you basically shove your license plate into their tailpipe….?

  7. Cheri says:


  8. Rita says:

    I had a similar banking experience. Unfortunately, Nancy must have been otherwise occupied because my outcome wasn’t as pleasant as yours. Maybe, I should have tried the Hardy boys as well . . . hmm, might need to check into that for future reference.

  9. Cheri says:

    Ha! In the 60’s girls read Nancy Drew and boys read The Hardy Boys. I suppose there were girls out there who followed Frank and Joe Hardy and boys who tailgated Nancy Drew! 😉

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