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Date of Issue: December 15, 2005

'Tis the season for more Island scams

There must be something about Anna Maria Island in winter that seems to draw scam artists from around the globe.

It appears the infamous "check deposit for a rental accommodation, then return the money" scam is again making its way around the Island (The Islander, Nov. 16).

The latest rendition of the scam took place at the Anna Maria Island Beach Resort when someone who claimed to be a "bishop" from Ghana booked a room via e-mail. Someone else, alleging they were his American sponsor, sent a check drawn on a Missouri bank for $5,750 as a deposit on the unit. The next day, the "bishop" e-mailed that he was canceling his vacation and requested a refund.

An unsuspecting manager might have already deposited the check and sent a perfectly good refund check to the bishop, but AMIBR manager Carolyn Wells was pretty sure it was a scam, and took the check to her local bank for investigation. The check turned out to be worthless.

The incident was reported to the Holmes Beach Police Department and was logged online as a fraud with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The "deposit scam" is not new to the Island and similar incidents should be reported to local law enforcement and online to the FBI at www.ifccfbi.gov.