$160K in fake checks found

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A pair of alleged scammers from South Carolina were arrested Friday after River Falls Police found more than $160,000 in fraudulent money orders and an address list of thousands of would-be and have-been victims.

Chief Greg Jackson said Pamela Pasquariello, 49, and son, 29-year-old Bradley Wilson, both of Conway, S.C., were pulled over in the family’s Pontiac Grand Prix for an improper tag violation.

But what officers found inside their vehicle was a crime of another level, when after a consensual search of the vehicle, officers located 192 fake money orders, Jackson said.

“When officers approached the vehicle, the smell of burnt marijuana was very strong,” he said. “Inside the vehicle, marijuana and several smoking devices were found, and at that time, Wilson was placed under arrest for possession of marijuana. “Officers then finished the search and located a tote bag in the trunk, which contained 192 forged money orders, each for $850.55,” he said. “That’s a total of $163,305.60”

Jackson said in addition to the fake money orders, officers located a list of “thousands” of addresses inside the tote bag.

“Which tells us that there were two options of use for these (money orders) – one, they could have been cashed for face value – or two, they were used for a number of different type of money order scams such as the popular ‘cash this money order, you keep a portion of the cash and then mail the rest to this address.’

“Combined with the fact that we found an address list of where these money orders had (allegedly) been mailed to and others, that’s probably a likely scenario,” he said. “I’ve only started going through the list, but I can say there is at least one address from every state in the U.S. on it.”

Jackson said the closest address to Covington County found “thus far” is Auburn, and due to the scope of the alleged crimes, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been called in to assist.

Currently, Pasquariello is charged with one count of possession of a forged instrument and son Wilson charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and second-degree possession of marijuana.

“This case is definitely still under investigation and will be presented to the next grand jury, where I expect them to be indicted on every single one of those fake money orders,” he said.

Jackson said he also expects the two face federal charges in the future.