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Crooks Cashing Canceled Checks

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:08 PM CDT

It's a piece of paper worth a lot of money.  A blank check can wipe you out.

"I was actually very frightened because it was the first thing that ever happened to me," said Lauren Armstrong.

Barely out of college, Armstrong had her identity stolen by a conniving crook.

"I had to go in and get new debit cards, new credit cards," added Armstrong.

But she didn't think about getting new checks.  That can be a costly mistake.

Since the start of the year there have been 346 forgery cases in the city of Austin.

Yesterday, cops arrested Theresa Pete (pictured).  She's accused of using a stolen check to try and open a fraudulent bank account.

"Know your bank's policies on stop payments," recommended Austin Senior Police Officer Veneza Bremner.

That's because a stop payment is temporary.  Patient criminals are holding on to your stolen checks -- sometimes for years.  When you least expect it the check is cashed.

"It was expired after six months and those checks were passed after those six months," added Bremner.

Bremner recommends closing your compromised account -- making those stolen or lost checks worthless.

A lesson Armstrong learned early in her adult life.

'It was like oh welcome to the real world," said Armstrong.

By Alex Boyer

Photo from Austin Police

Crooks Cashing Canceled Checks

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