NEWS RELEASE                                             

For Immediate Release
December 22, 2008
Contact: Michele Nicholson
Public Information Officer
  (850) 651-7420



     The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office wants to warn business owners to be alert to a counterfeit traveler's check scam that is occurring in our area.

     Over the weekend, the thieves hit a half dozen businesses in Destin and Fort Walton Beach.  In all instances, a man or a woman purchased, or attempted to purchase items,  with a fake $100 Bank of America American Express Travelers Gift Check, and also got cash in return.

    The Destin businesses targeted include Publix Supermarket, Best Buy Electronics, Lane Bryant retail store,  Stein Mart, the Office Depot, and Pet Smart. An attempt was also made at the Publix on Mary Esther Cut-Off.

    Investigators are asking clerks to be extra vigilant and ensure any Travelers Gift Checks are genuine.  Bank officials say the checks should contain fourteen digits.

     The suspects are described as a tall black male with a thin build and a black female, around 5'5", 140 pounds, and approximately 30 years of age.

      Anyone with information on the scam is asked to contact the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office at 850-651-7400 or Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers at 850-863-TIPS.