Boston, MA -- Next time you are about to write a personal check to tip someone – take caution – that is the advice of postal inspectors. Writing that check could cost you a lot more than you ever intended.
Maureen Webster was a fraud victim. She said, "I was really disappointed that it happened to me…" She said she still can't believe an identity thief stole thousands of dollars from her. The most frustrating part? The thief was her newspaper delivery guy. Webster said, "In my mind, he was a nice hard working man, never thinking, I never thought twice about tipping a newspaper delivery person with a personal check." She will from now on because her newspaper delivery man betrayed her trust. "He decided to make some additional checks that looked like mine and he decided to welcome himself to all of the money in my bank account." But it didn't end with fraudulent checks. Webster said, "They filed fraudulent tax returns for 2012, they filed fraudulent state income tax returns for 2012, they got into my fidelity account and tried to take out $10,000."
Postal inspectors say a ring of newspaper delivery guys stole millions of dollars from more than 400 victims. U.S. Postal Inspector Ryan Noonan said, "Add zeros where they shouldn't be added, cash checks on their accounts and then put in change of address of the people – getting the mail delivered to his house, get bank statements and enter into their bank accounts and engage in account takeovers."
After a few months, police arrested the suspect. Webster said, "He wasn't hard to find. He was smart enough to figure out how to write checks out of peoples accounts but he wasn't smart enough to not write his name and address on his… he basically led them right to him."
Postal inspectors want to remind you to check your bank statements to make sure the check amounts match. If you wrote a check for $30, make sure there's not a bank debit of $300 or $3,000 instead. And if you bank online, you can do it a lot more frequently than that once-a-month statement.