Two men charged in counterfeiting scheme

August 31, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Two Martinsburg Correctional Center officers have been charged with counterfeiting and conspiracy to counterfeit after allegedly attempting to pay a bill at an outdoor sporting goods store with fake $100 bills, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Brian Lee Sine, 36, of 2051 Harris Way, Apt. 422, in Martinsburg, and Joshua Lee Beck, 22, of 807 West Virginia Ave. in Martinsburg, each were charged with three felony counts of counterfeiting and one felony count of conspiracy to counterfeit, according to warrants filed with the court by West Virginia State Police Trooper J.M. Walker.

Magistrate Jim Humphrey on Friday morning set a $100,000 bond for Sine and a $40,000 bond for Beck, according to arraignment hearing records. Both applied for court-appointed attorneys, and Beck later posted bail, according to court records.

Scott E. Paugh, warden of the Martinsburg Correctional Center, was off Friday and not immediately available to comment. Joe Thornton, spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, confirmed that Sine had been dismissed and Beck was placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.


Walker said Friday that Sine was the primary suspect in his investigation, which he said resembled a "Nigerian scam."

"We deal with 'Nigerian scams' all the time," said Walker, explaining how victims are lured by promises of making easy money in exchange for taking on a job. "If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is going to be."

In an interview with Sine on Aug. 24 at the correctional center, Walker said the accused told him he received $100,000 in wire transfers since January as part of a counterfeit money order scheme involving a "lady from Africa," according to the officer's complaint.

Sine indicated he met her on the Internet through Yahoo! Instant Messaging, Walker said.

The woman told Sine that she wanted him to work for a company in a "'pack mule' capacity," and began sending him counterfeit money orders, according to Walker's complaint.

"Mr. Sine advised the first packages sent to him contained approximately $15,000 in counterfeit money orders and during the last four months, (each of) the packages contained approximately $40,000 of counterfeit money orders," Walker said.

After receiving the money orders, Sine used a fictitious name to ship $3,000 to $5,000 in counterfeit money orders via UPS to people throughout the U.S., Walker said in his complaint.

The people who received them then would wire him money through Western Union, and Walker said the accused picked it up at Martin's Food Market or Food Lion in Berkeley County, according to the trooper's complaint.

Walker said Sine also indicated that the woman in Africa paid him $2,200 in counterfeit $100 bills for his work and that money was used at Valley Guns II at 998 Arden-Nollville Road to pay a bill.

"It just didn't feel right," the shop owner said of the alleged counterfeit $100 bills he was handed earlier this month at the Inwood, W.Va., area business.

The accused were paying on an account for a firearms special order, said the owner, who requested anonymity.

The fake bills initially felt "a little sticky" to the owner's hands, but not like honey would make them feel, he said.

"Too crisp, I guess," he added.

After comparing the counterfeit money to real $100 bills, the owner said he "obviously could see the detail (in the watermark) wasn't there."

A Valley Guns employee told Walker that Sine handed him five $100 bills, and the shop owner told the trooper that Beck attempted to utter three $100 bills during a store visit on Aug. 17, according to the officer's complaint.

The Herald-Mail Articles