Postal Inspectors: Thieves Stealing, Altering Checks From Wake Businesses
Posted April 12, 2002 9:43 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — Thieves are stealing checks out of mailboxes in Wake County. They are also altering the checks, cashing them and are getting away with hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to postal inspectors.
Inspectors said the thieves have been targeting businesses, taking their mail on weekends when the companies are closed.
The Postal Service said about 20 businesses in Wake County have been hit in the past three to four months. It is investigating more than $500,000 worth of stolen checks.
One of the businesses hit was Fairway Printing.
A local business customer mailed Fairway a check for $1,073. Later, when the customer looked at the bank statement, there was a cancelled check for $4,783. The check was not made out to Fairway Printing, but to a man it had never heard of. That man successfully cashed the check.
Both companies are out of a lot of money because of the bad check.
"To take a check and then change it, the technology to change it has got to be terrific. Then, to be able to cash it, that's the part that's unbelievable to me," said Neal Champion, of Fairway Printing.
Postal inspectors said the people cashing the checks are not the same people who steal them. Inspectors said the thieves alter the checks and then hire someone to cash them at the banks they are drawn on.
Officers have arrested at least one of the check cashers, but the trail ends with those stealing the checks.
Postal inspectors have a few suggestions for businesses closed on weekends. They said the businesses should call their local post office and withhold delivery of mail until Monday.
Also, they said that it is important to retrieve mail as soon as possible after delivery, and outgoing mail should not be placed in the mailbox. It should be handed to the letter carrier or mailed at the post office.
They warn that homeowners should follow the same advice.