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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Costly Delivery

Updated: Monday, April 28 2014, 07:39 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- A lot of us use debit and credit cards but, plenty of people still write checks.
  
The next time you write a personal check to tip someone, be careful, that's the advise of postal inspectors.

Maureen Webster, a fraud victim, said, "I was really disappointed that it happened to me."
 
Maureen Webster still can't believe an identity thief stole thousands of dollars from her, the most frustrating part?  Who the thief ended up being.  It 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.
 
She continues, "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 the story didn'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 dollars," Webster said.
 
How did the delivery guy access all of this information?  All this information is in cyber space, with just a name and address he was able to find out all the information he needed.

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

Ryan Noonan, a US Postal Inspector, 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, the suspect was arrested.
 
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 say check your bank statements carefully to make sure the check amounts match.  So if you you write a 30 dollar check, 300 dollars isn't taken from your bank account.  It's best to check regularly online more than once a month.
 


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