Tenn. town falls victim to identity theft - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tenn. town falls victim to identity theft

(WMC-TV) - Identity theft is a problem for many individuals, but did you know even cities can fall victim? That is what happened to the West Tennessee town of Henning when someone intercepted a check meant to pay a newspaper subscription.

Now, the small town is in big debt.

To the 1,000 people in Henning, $25,000 is a lot of money.

"You can see the holes in the streets and everything else around here," said Billy Poe Brandon, who owns a business in Henning. "Just look around at what $25,000 would do."

The town's mayor says the money was taken from the town's bank account back in February after a $187 subscription payment to the Jackson Sun. The newspaper's payment office is in Dallas, Texas.

"Between here and Dallas, someone intercepted the check, scratched out the $187 and put in $25,000, left my signature and the recorders' signature on the check," said Henning Mayor Michael Bursey.

Mayor Michael Bursey has a copy of the check made out to Chaveze Pippins.

The $25,000 check was supposedly delivered to his Texas apartment.

Bursey says the check was cashed a short time later at a Capital One Bank in Texas.

"No one notified us or verified with us whether the check was valid. It was also written to an individual into his apartment. The town would never do that," said Mayor Bursey.

Bursey says whoever forged the check tried to cash it twice.

He says the money was taken out of the town's general fund account.

Bursey says the town works hard to preserve its resources.

"It hurts my feelings that somebody would do this. The town is struggling now as it is. It's terrible," said Brandon.

The state comptroller's office says at this point no one has been charged in this case.

Officials are trying to figure out whether or not Chaveze Pippins is a real person or an alias.

Mayor Bursey says the town will get it's $25,000 back.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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