A 21-year-old South Riding man has been charged by the Sheriff’s Office for his alleged role in a counterfeit check scam known as the Nigerian scam.
Sharveen Sharifaie-Arabi was charged with obtaining money under false pretenses, Thursday, July 9, after a sting was set up in the Prime Mart in Chantilly by the Loudoun investigators, the Fairfax County police department and Western Union. Investigators also found $2,423,070 in counterfeit checks at Sharifaie-Arabi’s house.
In the scam, Sharifaie-Arabi allegedly sent his victims a counterfeit check he said contained extra money that they could keep if they would only send him a money order for the remaining amount, Kraig Troxell, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said.
"By the time they would send the money order and the check is set to clear in the bank, they would find out the check was fake," Troxell said.
The investigation into Sharifaie-Arabi began at the beginning of August, when personnel from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., Contacted Loudoun investigators. A student at the university reported she had been scammed out of money when she attempt to rent a room to a South Riding man.
Wednesday, July 8, the Sheriff’s Office received another complaint regarding the same South Riding man from a man in Rhode Island. The second victim reported receiving a suspicious check from a man in South Riding, which was sent to purchase a Howard Miller display case on the Web site craigslist.com. The suspect sent a check for more then the asking price of the display case and a letter that asked the recipient to send some of the extra money via a money order to a Western Union located closest to South Riding. The money order was allegedly to pay another individual for moving expenses.
In Thursday’s sting operation, Sharifaie-Arabi was told that the extra money had been sent to the Prime Mart convenience store and was taken into custody when he went to pick up the check. He has since been released on a $3,000 bond.
Troxell said it has been difficult for the Sheriff’s Office to respond to reports of similar scams because the scammers typically live overseas.
"This is the first time we’ve seen the actual alleged scammer in Loudoun," he said. "This is the first time we’ve been able to make an arrest."
Troxell said potential victims would know if they had been victims of Sharifaie-Arabi’s scam because they would have sent checks directly to him in South Riding.
"He was using different names on the checks [he sent], but people were sending their money to him through his real name," Troxell said.
If anyone believes they’ve had contact with Sharifaie-Arabi, Troxell said they should come forward and contact the Sheriff’s Office.
— Erika Jacobson