Spence Kenneth Sims

Sims

An Arco man has been arrested after he reportedly cashed bad checks, costing a credit union more than $26,000.

Spence Kenneth Sims, 73, was charged with three counts of drawing checks without funds. Police reports show that shortly after obtaining the money, he used it to pay someone he met online.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Sims deposited six checks at Westmark Credit Union between June 3 and June 6, four from a US Bank account and two from D.L. Evans. The checks had a combined value of $52,060.

Westmark caught on the checks were from accounts without money and blocked Sims from depositing some of them. By that time, however, Sims reportedly had spent $26,703.86, according to the affidavit.

The credit union’s legal manager contacted police to report the checks, providing copies of the checks with Sims’ signature, security footage of him pulling into the parking lot and entering the credit union, and his financial records.

The affidavit states Sims had spent $12,154.93 on computer equipment. The signature on the checks matched his driver’s license.

An Idaho Falls Police Department officer contacted Sims, who agreed to meet with police, saying he had been scammed.

During the meeting Sims admitted claimed a woman from Malaysia and her brother came to live with him in December. He first gave her name as Idis Connie, then as Ilsa Vesser. The stories were refuted by Sims’ brother and probation officer who both confirmed to police Sims was living alone.

A search of Sims’ phone found messages with a person named “Rose” who had scammed Sims into sending her money and the computer equipment.

Sims claimed Vesser told him she had millions of dollars tied up by the Malaysian government and that she needed to pay them $25,000 before she could access it. Similar claims are common in internet scams and spam emails in an attempt to convince someone to send them money.

Sims said Vesser had left with the money and computer equipment. He said she had written the checks.

“I did not believe Spence’s story,” the officer wrote in his report. “It did not make sense to me.”

Sims’ brother warned police that he likes to tell “tall tales.” The brother said he had been to Sims’ house almost daily without seeing anyone.

Sims admitted to fabricating most of the story because he wanted to make it “look better.” He continued to claim, however, that Vesser had stayed with him for a week.

Each of the three counts of drawing checks without funds is punishable with up to three years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine. Sims was released to pretrial supervision. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 9 in the Bonneville County Courthouse.

Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.