A Rutledge resident was arrested June 18, after allegedly trying to cash a forged check for $9,776.15.
Martini Lashundra Hardge, 26, attempted to cash a forged check at Elm Street Check Cash after she claimed to have sold a trailer to her cousin.
Check Cash store owner Michael Shirah stated that Hardge came into the store around 5 p.m. trying to cash the check. Not certain if the check was valid or not, Hodge asked Shirah if it was legit.
The check was made out to Martini Lashundra Hardge of Social Circle and dated June 12. The check was allegedly written by Wilson Trailer Company of Sioux City, Iowa, on the Wells Fargo Bank of Montana.
"She came in and asked me was the check any good, (real), and I told her that I would have to call and check and see if it was real," Shirah said.
Hardge then left the store to head to her local bank, Wachovia, while Shirah checked on the authenticity of the check.
Shortly after arriving at Wachovia, Hardge received a phone call from Shirah stating that the check was real and that he could cash it.
"I didn't want her to get all the way back to Social Circle, so I called her and had her come back to the store," Shirah said.
Before Hodge's arrival, Shirah called the Wilson Trailer Company to inquire about the check. Shirah spoke with one of the company's representatives, who stated that the check had been written for a month earlier and had already been cashed and cleared. The representative also stated that there had been several other incidents in which checks had been forged with the use of the company's' name.
After returning to the store, Shirah asked Hodge how she came in contact with the check. "She told me that she sold a trailer to her cousin," Shirah said. "I continued to ask her various questions and none of them seemed to be adding up."
With stories varying from the original, Shirah's suspicions lead him to call the Covington Police Department to notify them of a possible forgery.
"The check looked so real," Shirah said. "The ink was perfect, all the numbers matched up, but her story kept changing."
Arriving to the scene was CPD officer Stacy Cosby, who listened to the two sides and placed Hardge under arrest for forgery.
Hardge was then taken to the Newton County Detention Center were she met with CPD investigators. Admitting to forgery, Hardge reportedly stated that she knew that the check had been stolen.
After reportedly confessing to the crime, Hardge was booked and charged with a misdemeanor first degree forgery and still remains in custody with no set bond.
When contacting the Trailer Company, representative Larry Countrymen stated that he was unaware of how the check made its way to Covington.
Countrymen also said the company is doing everything possible to assure that it doesn't happen again.
"This is the third or fourth time we have been faced with this problem," Countrymen said. "We are working with Wells Fargo Bank to take all the proper precautions. Every check is examined thoroughly with all payments being stopped."