Someone is creating fake checks purportedly issued by Carthage ISD and giving them to people who have signed up to be mystery shoppers, Carthage ISD officials said.

School and bank personnel have caught the checks before any district money was released, officials said, but the district has had to close out one of its accounts at First State Bank in Carthage to prevent potential issues.

Superintendent Glenn Hambrick said at Monday’s school board meeting that the checks had what looks like the real signatures that would be on the district’s checks.

“But the checks... don’t look anything like our checks,” he said. “So somehow they were able to acquire the signatures and then made up their own check like it was a CISD check. Then they tried to pass these checks off. Well, fortunately, we’re a small enough town and community that they caught it at the bank because they knew those weren’t our checks when they came through.”

Business Manager Kathy Worley told officials Monday that they got a call from a woman who used to live in Carthage and now lives in Fort Worth about one of the fake checks being distributed.

“She’s signed up to be a secret shopper. So she receives in the mail our check for $1,950 with her name on it,” Worley said. “Of course she recognized Carthage ISD.”

Worley and Hambrick both noted the fake checks all had values around $1,950. Worley said they immediately shut down the account so no money could be lost. That money was temporarily moved to another account that holds other bond funds.

“We immediately notified the bank, and they were on alert for it,” Worley said. “They knew, and they’ve stopped everything.”

District officials formally voted to close the account at their Monday meeting. They also opened a new account, so that the money from the compromised account can be put there.

“We’ve closed the account, and now we need to open another account. We can’t co-mingle our bond monies. We’ve got two sets of bond monies out there. So what we did is we closed the old account into the one we had open so he could just shut it down, but we need to open a new one because we can’t co-mingle the two issues,” Worley said.

Hambrick thanked district and bank officials for their diligence.

“The bottom line is no money has been lost,” he said. “All of it has been caught ahead of time. To me, that’s a credit to Kathy and her department and to First State Bank. Both of them have done a really good job.”


Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.