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Rip-Off Alert: Gift check bounces back to hurt victim

(News 3)
(News 3)
Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 4/26/2014 7:21 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV — Next time you are about to write a personal check to tip someone, be cautious: That is the advice of postal inspectors.

In this Rip-Off Alert from Boston, writing a check cost one victim much more than she ever intended.

Fraud victim Maureen Webster still can’t believe an identity thief stole thousands of dollars from her. The most frustrating part was that the thief was her newspaper delivery guy.

“In my mind, he was a nice, hard-working man,” Webster said. “I never thought twice about tipping a newspaper delivery person with a personal check.”

She will from now on.

“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,” she said.

The story doesn’t end with fraudulent checks.

“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,” Webster said.

How did the delivery guy access all of this information?

“It amazes me that somehow all this information is in cyberspace,” Webster said. “With just a name and address, he was able to find out all the information.”

Webster was not alone. Postal inspectors say a ring of newspaper delivery guys stole millions of dollars from more than 400 victims.

“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,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Ryan Noonan.

After a few months, the suspect was arrested.

“He wasn’t hard to find,” Webster said. “He was smart enough to figure out how to write checks out of people’s 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 people to check their bank statements to make sure the check amounts match.


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