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Rip-Off Alert: Scammer's big check sets off red flag

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 5/06/2014 7:07 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV — In this Rip-Off Alert, postal inspectors show how they busted a scam at a post office involving a very large check.

A man presented the post office with a $49,000 check.

“It wasn’t quite the normal customer,” said Customer Service Manager Melinda Martel. “There was something about him that my staff picked up.”

He asked to buy several rolls of stamps and cash his check, so the clerk asked him for ID.

“He’s insisting that he’s in a hurry,” Martel said. “He’s insisting that he doesn’t get questioned for ID.”

Postal employees were purposely trying to keep him there so they could get a picture of him and alert inspectors.

“He got nervous, waiting for so long for us to attend to him, and he wasn’t getting his goods,” Martel said. “And he got nervous, left the check, and walked out of the building.”

The post office prevented this particular loss – but this suspect had been running an elaborate check fraud scheme for months.

“They use checks that are either bad or they’re drafted from accounts that are closed,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Troy Dickinson. “And they use those checks to make purchases.”

In this case, it was stamps.

“He would buy 400 to 600 stamps at one point,” Dickinson said. “And that’s unusual for someone to buy so many stamps.”

He would sell them to anybody.

“To pawn stores, or people on the streets,” Dickinson said. “He might say I’m a small business owner and I just need money real quick – I just bought all these stamps and I’m willing to sell them to you for a discount.”

This was not his first operation.

“This was one person who figured out how to take advantage of a situation,” Dickinson said. “He wrote numerous checks. He got the post office for almost $40,000.”

The suspect was caught, convicted and is now serving seven years in prison. The story is an important reminder to always protect your personal information and checks.


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