The Salvation Army of Charleston, South Carolina, thought it had received a $25,000 gift right before Christmas. But the donation turned out to be part of an elaborate hoax
Officials said Wednesday that more than a dozen Charleston-community charities received fake checks before Christmas purporting to be gifts from a genuine local company.
While none of the other charities cashed theirs, the local Salvation Army went ahead and deposited their check, and began spending the money they thought they had received on food, toys, and other supplies for over 100 needy families.
The charity's plans were undercut when their bank called just days before Christmas to alert the Salvation Army that the check had bounced.
"It's a matter of counting on that so we would have a cushion," Kiki Cooper, who is the director of development for the Charleston chapter said. Cooper added that the check represented about 10 percent of what the Salvation Army chapter takes in over the holiday season.
The check, and a letter that went with it, were purported to be from Force Protection Inc., an armored vehicle maker based in Ladson, South Carolina. The letter explained that the company had enjoyed great success over the prior year, and wanted to share the wealth with local charities.
On December 17th, which happened to be the same day Salvation Army deposited the check, Force Protection sent out a memo saying they had been the victim of a scam, after other charities had contacted the company about the generous, and unsolicited donations.
A spokesman for Force Protection said the checks were written on a company bank account that had been closed long ago, but he would not speculate on who had been responsible for the hoax.
"People say why don't you check every check? We have old ladies who send us a dollar and we're talking at this time of year we have anywhere from 500 to 1,000 checks coming in a week," Cooper said.