The Boston Globe: Ad offers $100,000 in check mystery (January 24, 1984)

boston-globe-1984-01-24by Lynda Gorov

A private investigator, acting on behalf of a West Coast law firm that represents the Church of Scientology, placed a full-page advertisement that appeared yesterday in The Boston Globe offering a $100,000 reward for information about a $2-million counterfeit check.

The ad seeks information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever forged and attempted to pass the check drawn on an E. F. Hutton Cash Reserve Management Account at the Bank of New England.

The incident dates back to June 7, 1982, according to the ad, when a man using the name Abdulamiar tried to open an account with the check at the Middle East Bank of New York City.

Eugene M. Ingram of Los Angeles, the private investigator who signed the ad, declined to say whose account the forged check was drawn on because, he said, he wants to screen out crank telephone callers by asking for the name of the account.

Sources say the account belonged to L. Ron Hubbard, who founded the controversial Church of Scientology in the late 1940s and who has not been seen in public since 1976.

David Aden, a vice president with the church in Boston, said he had no knowledge of the ad before reading it in The Globe yesterday. “I have no record of this thing,” he said.

Ingram said the check was counterfeit, copied from a legitimate check which passed through the Hutton section in the Bank of New England on March 11, 1982. In the ad, Ingram contended that “efforts to obtain relevant information” from the bank have been futile.

Questions were immediately raised about the check, Bank of New England spokeswoman Denise Lane said, and it was not honored. The owner of the account did not lose any money, she said, and the man known as Abdulamiar never returned to the Middle East Bank.

Lane said the bank has cooperated fully with an FBI investigation and also conducted an internal investigation, “which reached no definite conclusion.” She added that the bank rejected Ingram’s request to make staff available for questioning.

The genuine check was first processed through the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston without incident, said assistant general counsel John Kimball. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston conducted an internal investigation that absolved the bank of any wrongdoing, Ingram said.

“Then the check was processed through the Bank of New England. That was the check the suspects used as a master,” Ingram said.

Lane said, however, that several other scenarios are possible. “It has not at all been determined that (what Ingram has charged) was the case,” she said. The bank processes about 600,000 checks daily, Lane said.

Ingram said a former Bank of New England employee identified a photograph of a person who did not work for the bank but who was in the bank’s check- processing section several times. Ingram said he has has an affadavit to back up his accusations, but that the person in question has refused to cooperate with the investigation.

“Someone stole an original check. That’s pretty serious,” Ingram said. “We’re talking a huge check here.”

FBI special agent Glen Prinsze in New York confirmed that the agency is conducting an investigation based on interstate transportation of stolen property. He declined to comment further while the investigation is in progress.

Ingram also approached the District Attorney’s office in Boston, said spokesman David M. Rodman. The office declined to cooperate, but felt Ingram’s “investigation should continue and we told him if he has any other information to get back to us,” Rodman said.

Alan G. Brower, Hutton senior vice president and deputy general counsel, said the securities firm “considers this a dead issue as far as we’re concerned.” He said Hutton cooperated with law enforcement authorities, but did not know whether the securities firm had held an internal investigation. Ingram said Hutton cooperated with his investigation earlier.

The ad in The Globe cost about $14,000. A quarter-page version of the ad will run through Friday, Ingram said.