Wellesley has experienced an uptick in stolen checks and other instances of mail fishing this summer, says Lieutenant Marie Cleary of the Wellesley Police Department.
According to Lt. Cleary, “Since the fall of 2019, the Wellesley Police Department has been periodically inundated with check fraud reports stemming from checks that have been placed into the U.S. Mail via blue USPS collection boxes throughout town.”
Despite the U.S. Postal Service replacing pull-down handles on mailboxes with thin slots in recent years, mail fishing has persisted.
One Wellesley resident who chose to remain anonymous became a victim of mail fishing last month, after sending a check from one of the mailboxes outside of the post office on Grove Street.
The check was originally made out for $400, but they received a notice from their bank a few days later, alerting them of a check for $14,000 being cashed under their name.
After connecting with USPS, it was discovered that areas of the check were bleached to “correct” the name and amount after being retrieved from the mailbox using double-sided tape.
“We are so grateful that these terrible people didn’t get the $14,000, but it has been such a pain for us to have to change everything,” they said, “We’re a little neurotic right now about everything.”
This story seems to line up with the Police Department’s data, which reports that instances of “bulk mail theft” are most common, during which the subject(s) will raid one or more of the blue USPS boxes, specifically those located outside of post offices.
At this time, the Wellesley Police Department is recommending that residents take some protective actions, including the following:
- “Do not mail letters containing checks or money in blue USPS collection boxes. If you must use a collection box, be sure to place your mail in the box before the last collection of the day.”
- “Use gel pens when writing personal checks. Gel ink is more resistant to chemical washing than standard ball point pen ink.”
- “Actively monitor your bank statements and follow up with intended recipients regarding the status of your payments.”
- “Report check fraud to the police department, even if you are reimbursed by your bank.”
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