Target 2: Warning for People Who Mail Checks - WBAY

Target 2: Warning for People Who Mail Checks

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If you send checks in the mail, you could be a potential victim of something called check washing.

One check washing operation was uncovered when thieves were caught on surveillance video stealing from business mailboxes.

"He got a ping on his cell phone and he was able to zoom in and identify his business mailbox was being broken into," said Rachel Sileski, U.S. Postal Inspector.

The video shows the ringleader who was convicted, and ordered to pay more than $50,000 in restitution to victims.

"He was obtaining business checks, he would wash and alter them and make them payable to himself and deposit them or cash them at the banks they were drawn on," said Sileski.

Check washing is the process of erasing details from checks and rewriting them often for larger amounts.

"So they could use their true identification and the check would be made payable to themself and without question they could go in and cash it," said Sileski.

One victim realized her company was a victim of check washing when she checked her bank statement.

"The check cashed for $2100 and I had actually written it for $125 dollars," said Julie DiMaggio.

Postal inspectors say this is another lesson on how important it is for all consumers to protect their identity.

"Be very diligent about checking your bank accounts, credit card statements for fraudulent transactions," said Sileski.

Local postal inspectors tell Target 2 they've seen check washing in our area, but it's more common for people to steal checks and produce entirely new counterfeits.

Their advice: mail checks from inside a post office or postal service collection box. 

They say that's more secure than putting outgoing checks in a residential mailbox.





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