Service of Check Washing: My Check Becomes Your Check

August 1st, 2019

Categories: Post Office, Scams

Photo: handwritingdocumentexamination.com

Hank Goldman, a loyal follower of this blog, urged me to “write about the scams and games targeted at senior citizens purporting to be get-rich-quick schemes where the victim soon winds up being poor. They are related to the oldies where a voice with a bad phone connection claims to be a grandson asking for money.”

These schemes against the vulnerable aren’t new. Long before ATM machines a great aunt was taken to the cleaners by someone who had her withdrawing big sums of money from her bank account until a suspicious teller finally called her son. I don’t remember what the swindler’s story was or where she met him—just that it happened.

The elderly aren’t the only vulnerable targets either. Scoundrels give hope to the terminally ill and those wanting to look forever young, gladly sucking their money with placebos and short-term pricey solutions some of which may do nothing and others potentially more harm than good.

Photo: 1st.postalinspectors.uspis.cov

Back to seniors as marks. Goldman zeroed in on one trick: “the literal washing of checks, in acetone–nail polish remover. The bank information remains intact while the acetone erases everything that the check writer has entered… Then the perpetrator signs the check and enters the new amount.”

Where do they find the checks? “They fish them out of mail carriers’ large plastic boxes [photo below, center] parked in luxury buildings where they easily identify the envelopes meant for doctors,” wrote Goldman. “This happened to me with a check for my dentist. The perpetrator took it when the doorman was looking away. The dentist had a few instances like this.”

Photo: cvs.com

Added Goldman. “This trick is easily done if you use a regular ballpoint pen. Instead, use a roller ball pen because that ink is less easy for swindlers to wash off.”

I’d written previously about the new mailboxes in NYC in the “Sticky Mail Boxes” section of “Service of Wacky things People Do.” The boxes no longer open wide enough to accommodate a fat 9 x 12 envelope. They are designed with thin slits in which to slide a letter or two to prevent anyone from fishing for checks.

Nothing will stop those up to no good. I wonder how postal delivery staff will protect mail theft from open containers in future. Has one of your checks been “washed” or do you bank on the Internet exclusively? Have you heard of new scams we should know about?

Photo: mercurynews.com

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