updated 8/15/2005 7:19:19 PM ET 2005-08-15T23:19:19

State and federal authorities are investigating an international scam that solicits Internet job hunters to cash counterfeit state of Arkansas checks, officials announced Monday.

Eight checks have been successfully cashed for a total of about $21,000. The checks are not honored when they reach Arkansas, and the state has not lost any money in the scam, state Treasurer Gus Wingfield said.

Reports of the forged checks have come in from 18 other states, officials said.

"These scam artists are using Arkansas' name to commit their crime," Attorney General Mike Beebe said. "Our state agencies will continue to investigate and trace these checks to put a stop to this activity."

The con artists target job hunters who post resumes online. Job seekers are "hired" by a company calling itself Void Computers Inc., and are asked to help the company cash checks worth $5,200 from Arkansas, which it says is one of its clients.

Checks were mailed from Turkey with instructions to wire the money to an address in Latvia, minus a 10 percent fee the consumer may keep. Applicants are urged to avoid banks and instead go to a check casher, liquor store or similar business.

"Some people have actually in response said 'you bet!' thinking they're going to get some easy money," Beebe said. "Many people have had the good sense to call the state of Arkansas."

State officials were alerted to the scam last week when a San Diego, Calif., liquor store owner inquired about a $2,400 check presented there for cashing.

No arrests were announced. Beebe said his investigators have consulted with the U.S. Postal Inspectors Office and the FBI.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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