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Theresa man caught as role player in Nigerian scam

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CAPE VINCENT — A Theresa man was jailed Wednesday after state police say he got caught up in a Nigerian scam that has left somebody, possibly Citizens Bank, holding the bag for a $73,000 swindle.

Charles R. Warner, 61, of 31402 County Route 18, is charged with second-degree grand larceny, and awaits possible grand jury action. Orleans Town Justice Richard W. Hardy set bail at $15,000, sending him to the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building, Watertown.

Mr. Warner received an email, possibly in January, informing him that he was the possible winner of a large amount of cash. He responded to the message, and ended up following instructions for a scenario in which “he knew what he was doing,” a trooper said.

Mr. Warner opened two accounts at Citizens Bank using false “doing business as” names, police said. One account was in the name of Sutters Home Winery, California, and the other was under the name of a transmission company, police said.

He received two checks, issued to the respective companies in amounts of about $42,000 and $31,000, and followed instructions to deposit them into their appropriate accounts, police said.

Citizens Bank accepted the deposits, but handled them with the appropriate precautionary routine of placing seven-day holds on them, a trooper said.

The checks were processed, and the funds were transferred from other banks to Citizens Bank, the trooper said.

After the holds were lifted, Mr. Warner was able to access the accounts, from which he made large withdrawals, the trooper said. The bulk of the money was sent to his contact in Nigeria, according to the trooper. The share that he kept was between $1,000 and $4,000, the trooper said.

Faye C. Waterman, president and chief executive offer of Citizens Bank, was unavailable Thursday afternoon for comment.

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