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Man arrested for trying to report bad check, attorney says

An attorney for a Pittsburgh-area man who spent a week in jail after being arrested for check fraud says his client is suing the police officer who arrested him for false arrest. He said that his client was wrongly charged after he tried to do the right thing by reporting suspected check fraud from a scammer.

Prosecutors in New Castle, Pennsylvania, have dropped forgery, receiving stolen property and theft by deception charges against the man, 33, but only after he spent seven days in jail due to his inability to post bail. The charges came after the man cashed two checks that turned out to be fraudulent, but which he had not forged and did not have any reasons to suspect at first, the man's attorney said.

The man had been looking for a roommate and posted an ad on the Internet. An email from a person named "Jessica" responded to the ad and sent him a check to cover the security deposit. The check was for more than what she owed, so "Jessica" asked the man to return the difference.

The New Castle man took the check to the bank and deposited it. The prospective roommate sent him a second check, but at that point the man became suspicious. He noticed that the checks were on an account from a New Jersey organization but were mailed from West Virginia.

Acting on his suspicions, the man took the check to his bank and showed it to officials there. He gave them his contact info so that the bank could let him know if the check was good. Two weeks later, the police officer, apparently believing the man was behind the check fraud, arrested him.

With the charges dropped, it appears that authorities have realized that the man should not have been arrested. Now the man is suing the police officer behind that decision for wrongful arrest.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Scam victim sues for false arrest," Rich Lord, April 5, 2012

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