Ann Nash has used the US Postal Service mailbox in her Garfield Ridge neighborhood for many years and has never had any issues until recently.
“From what we can gather, he sent a check around the 12th, and it was cashed on the 19th and amended, and they withdrew $7,500,” she explained. “It was originally a check for $20 when he mailed it.”
Nash told NBC 5 that her husband dropped the check in the USPS mailbox near Archer and Nashville Avenues. He discovered the check had never reached its destination when he went to the bank earlier this week.
“Horrified because it’s a lot of money,” she said. “We had to pay bills, and it’s crazy because the bank gave us the picture of the check, and it’s altered in the worst possible way. I can even see where it looks like it’s bleached.
The bank told her husband that the check had been deposited through a mobile banking app and the check had cleared. Nash and her husband said they are now waiting to get their money back.
She shared her story on social media to warn others and soon learned they weren’t the only victims.
“Everyone is like, oh yeah, it happened to my dad, it happened to my mom, it happened to me,” she said.
The United States Postal Inspection Service said it is actively investigating cases of mail theft in the Chicagoland area, but could not say exactly how many cases are tied to that specific mailbox or even at the post office on Archer and Laramie avenues.
“I do stuff online now,” said another victim, who did not want to be identified. “I don’t care, I debit and how I pay my bills now – I don’t go to the post office.”
The victim, who is also from Garfield Ridge, said someone altered and tried to deposit his certified check for $8,900 intended to pay his car bill. It was dropped off inside the post office at Archer and Laramie.
“Nobody looks at what anybody’s doing, so you don’t know if it’s an inside job or what’s going on there,” she said. “It’s frustrating because you think you’re safe and someone can just change it and take all your money out of your account.”
The victim said his bank was able to block the check and eventually returned the money more than 90 days later.
“I hope they catch this person, people, whoever is doing this,” she said. “You know it can happen to anyone.”
Experts said it is best to use a gel pen when filling out checks to avoid check washout.
To avoid what’s called “check washout,” experts say it’s best to use a gel pen when filling out checks. Additional guidance from the USPS can be found here.
Anyone who has had a check stolen can file a report with the Postal Inspection Service by calling 877-876-2455.