Nigerian Wire Scam at Home, Company Says

PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A check-cashing company claims in court that a manufacturer passed a counterfeit $88,000 check and laundered the money through a wire transfer to a sham entity the United Arab Emirates, a gambit known as a “Nigerian wire scam.”
     In its federal lawsuit, Windsor Jewels of Pennsylvania dba Ace Check Cashing claims the defendant principals of Ruch Carbide Burs – Robert Ruch III, Robert Ruch Jr., and Karen Kurz – had been occasional customers, so their names were on file as approved to cash checks at Ace, individually and on behalf of defendant Ruch Carbide.
     Windsor claims one of its tellers received a call from defendant Kurz on Oct. 3, saying she would come that day to cash an $88,000 check made out to Ruch Carbide. The reason for the call was to make sure ACE “had enough money on hand to negotiate the item,” according to the complaint.
     Windsor claims Kurz asked how late the Ace check chasing store would be open, and the teller said 8:30 p.m., but she would be leaving at 5 p.m. During a subsequent call, the teller told Kurz that Ace would be happy to cash the check if it could be verified with the issuing bank.
     Windsor claims Kurz promised to fax over a copy of the check, but did not. And it claims Kurz promised to send the check itself to be cashed by 4 p.m., but did not arrive until the store was about to close.
     The teller on duty cashed the check, but was unable to validate it because of the late hour, Windsor says.
     A week later, “On October 10, 2013, the bank on which the check was drawn returned the same to plaintiff marked ‘counterfeit,'” the complaint states.
     Ace’s principal, who is not identified in the complaint, contacted the defendants to find out what was going on. Ruch Jr. promised to look into it, saying the check had been written to pay for products Ruch Carbide had sold, according to the complaint.
     The next morning, Ace’s principal drove to Ruch Carbide’s offices to return the counterfeit check and find out when he would get his money back, the complaint states.
     There, Windsor claims, defendants said the parts bought with the check had already been delivered and that the proceeds from the sale had been wired to a bank in the United Arab Emirates, at the instruction of their customers.
     The defendants offered a lengthy and convoluted explanation of the transaction, claiming the parts were bought for a third party by an entity in the UAE and that the check had been made out in the wrong amount, the lawsuit states.
     Windsor claims the defendants produced an alleged purchase order from the Fast Equipment General Trading Company in United Arab Emirates.
     “On information and belief, the company is a fictitious entity identified solely to launder the proceeds of the counterfeit check using an international wire transmission,” the complaint states.
     When Ace’s principal demanded that any of the proceeds that had not been wired to the UAE be returned, the defendants balked: “Ruch Jr. stated that he no longer had any money, adding derisively, ‘I could take a dump and give it to you,'” according to the complaint.
     Ace claims that it contacted the alleged third party in the transaction, a Maryland company called Corelli Inc., and “learned, contrary to defendants’ representation, that Corelli Inc. never did any business with any defendant or on any job in the United Arab Emirates.”
     Corelli is not a party to the lawsuit.
     Windsor claims that the defendants stonewalled its demands for the money, that “Ruch III and his attorneys promised cooperation, compete transparency, and production of bank records and waited which would authorize Ace to communicate unencumbered with Ruch Carbide’s bank,” but that “such promises were never kept.”
     The complaint adds: “On information and belief, these false promises were presented merely to delay the filing of this lawsuit.”
     Windsor Jewels seeks treble damages for fraud, court costs, interest and attorney’s fees.
     It is represented by Geoffrey Gompers of Philadelphia.

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