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Albany County doesn't lose money in counterfeiting scam

As of Thursday, Dec. 28, the Albany County comptroller's office had been notified that the county had been the target of two attempts to defraud it of hundreds of thousands of dollars through fraudulent checks discovered in India and Malaysia. News of a third fraudulent check, this time in Pakistan, surfaced on Friday, Dec. 29.

Ernesto Anguilla, who handles New York media relations for the Bank of America, said the bank could not comment on its clients' accounts or whether any money was paid on the fraudulent checks. Because the bank caught the fraud, the county would not be responsible if the funds had been paid out.

The county does not have a loss on this chain of events, said Albany County Comptroller Michael Conners.

In mid-December, Deputy Comptroller Billy Curran was told by Bank of America that an individual had attempted to cash a counterfeit county check on Monday, Dec.18, in the amount of $153,000, at a bank in India.

The fraudulent check, dated Nov. 30, was made payable to M. Raja Paranthaman. An address on the check lists Paranthaman's address as Tamil Nadu, India.

Bank of America detected the fraud because the check number was the same as a check issued to a county elections official in September for $125. Bank of America then contacted the Albany comptroller's office to make them aware of the fraudulent activity.

After checking records, the county told the bank to not honor the check.

A week later, Curran was contacted again by Bank of America, indicating that the bank had found another check, this one in the amount of $150,000.50, that again had an identical number to a check that had been issued to a county elections official. This check, also dated for Nov. 30, had been deposited at a Malaysian bank on Dec. 26.

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