Authorities in Minnesota are asking the 759 businesses there that paid an OSHA fine in 2009 to examine their books carefully. They may be the victims of a check-fraud operation.
A state employee, Terri Lynn Brennan, was arrested in the alleged scheme in which forgers gathered account information from checks companies used to pay OSHA fines. Then, authorities say Brennan used the information to create bogus checks and cash them.
So far, investigators have turned up only a handful of companies known to be victims with a total loss of a few thousand dollars.
For example: O’Bey Construction Corp. paid a $315 OSHA fine. It was swindled out of $745 when a phony check bearing the company’s account numbers was cashed at a Wal-Mart.
Authorities believe the swindlers may have kept the phony check amounts below $1,000 to avoid detection.
State officials say the labor department has modified rules on the handling and storage of OSHA fine-payment checks. They don’t believe there were other state employees carrying out the same type of fraud.