Business

American Express to reimburse Beaufort ice cream parlor for fake traveler's check

Jack Sheehy, co-owner of Southern Sweets, shows a traveler's check his employee recently accepted that turned out to be counterfeit -- but it's not clear how Sheehy could have spotted the fake since it looks just like normal traveler's checks, he said.
Jack Sheehy, co-owner of Southern Sweets, shows a traveler's check his employee recently accepted that turned out to be counterfeit -- but it's not clear how Sheehy could have spotted the fake since it looks just like normal traveler's checks, he said. Staff photo

A downtown Beaufort business owner says American Express has agreed to reimburse him for a fake $100 traveler's check he accepted two weeks ago.

On July 4, a middle-aged couple used the $100 American Express traveler's check to purchase $8 worth of goods, said Jack Sheehy, co-owner of Southern Sweets Ice Cream Parlor in Old Bay Marketplace on Bay Street. The couple received the rest back in cash.

Sheehy's employee followed protocol for handling and ensuring the validity of a traveler's check, he said.

It was deposited the next day with CBC National Bank, but American Express sent it back, calling it "fictitious." Sheehy and bank officials could see no problems with the check. Watermarks, images and a holographic foil all looked as they should.

Sheehy spent last week warning other merchants about the fake check. He also talked with the bank and American Express about reimbursements and how to identify fakes.

Over the weekend, American Express agreed to reimburse him for the $100 check and the $10 bank fee charged after the check was returned, Sheehy said in an email. He added that the company will send him additional guidelines for identifying genuine checks.

"I asked her to send me some information as to the kind of thing that I should look for, not that I would ever accept them again," he said.

Main Street Beaufort, USA, is asking merchants to contact the organization if they discover they accepted a fake traveler's check.

"On the bright side, since any news is good news, I have had several local folks come in to express their sympathy and to support my business," Sheehy wrote.

The American Express website states businesses are guaranteed payment as long as they follow the "Watch & Compare" procedure outlined on the site.

Checks have several security features, including the Centurion's portrait, holographic foil, a watermark and security thread, according to the website. They come in denominations of $20, $50, $100, $500 and $1,000.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

Related content:

Downtown Beaufort merchant warns businesses about fake traveler's check, July 10, 2013

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