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State corrections employee charged in international money order scam

By Amanda Brannon
Published On: Oct 03 2012 10:25:33 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 03 2012 10:00:14 PM CDT

A Greenville woman is being held under a $1,000,000 bond for 52 counts of forgery of an instrument.

Mary Ellen Williams, 57, an administrative assistant with Eastern Regional Training Center for the North Carolina Department of Corrections, was arrested Tuesday at her home on Saddleback Drive in Greenville.

Authorities said Williams accepted a part-time job offer from a company overseas to send money orders and cashier's checks to a list of people across the country in exchange for some money to put in her pocket. 

"[Williams] said she knew they were fake but they looked real so she sent them out," Pitt County Sheriff's Detective Linwood Mercer said.

However, that operation stopped when a federal agency intercepted the latest package coming from Saudi Arabia.

"The package had 470 postal money orders and they are made out to $975 dollars a piece," Mercer said.

Authorities said typically the victims were told to cash the money orders, keeping a portion for their efforts and then sending the rest back to the so-called company in Africa. However, once it was discovered that the money orders were counterfeit the victims would have to repay the entire amount.

It's unclear how long Williams has been working for the so-called company; however, what is clear is how she was getting the packages.

"I just know the packages came to my house. I signed for them and I'd take them back to her house," Williams' nephew Alfred Sanders said.

Sanders was an unwilling participant and thought the packages contained label makers. He said he didn't know what to say when he found out his aunt had been arrested.

"Umm [I'm] in total shock right now. Disbelief [and] shock. I didn't know she was doing something this stupid," Sanders said.

The case is still under investigation and Pitt County Sheriff's Office says they plan to contact all of the victims; however, they may never know who is behind the international scam.