Friday, August 29, 2008

More than a Red Flag...

Let me set the scene. I wrote out checks to pay 2 bills, put them in their assigned envelopes with the stub from the creditor with our account# on it, etc. My husband put them in the mailbox at 6:00 am this morning.

Fastforward to 12:30 pm. I am enjoying a leisurely sushi lunch with my two girlfriends when I receive a call on my cell phone. "Hello, Heather". "Yes, this is she". "This is Patricia from XXX Bank, did you write a check to Mr. John Allen for $300 for A/C repairs recently?" "Ugh, no". "Hmmmm...yeah we didn't think so either but he did try to cash one drawn on your account with your forged signature." "Is he still there at the bank?". "No, he took off we did retain the check and need you to come down as soon as possible." "Thank you Patricia, I'll be there in 15 minutes". "Ok, I'll flag your account that there is fraudlent activity so that if he tries to cash anymore checks on your account they will not be cashed". "Thank you, I'll see you soon".

My mind was racing as to where this guy could have gotten my checks, etc. When I got to the bank I realized he'd stolen them out of my mailbox this morning because he had made a new check (looked like a money order) out to himself, using the EXACT check # I used to pay the bill left in my mailbox, then he forged my name at the bottom and in the memo line wrote "For a/c repair".

He actually went inside the bank lobby to cash it, presented his id, placed his thumbprint on the check and then when the teller told him that she needed to verify the check he said, "Uh, I have a phone call I need to take in my car, I'll be right back!" He promptly hightailed it out to his car, jumped in and sped away. Not before being caught on camera at the bank, leaving his thumbprint on the check and forgetting his state issued id card. Sounds like he should be featured on the next episode of, "America's Dumbest Criminals". The teller also got his license plate # as he zoomed away. What an idiot.

It really was frustrating having to close my account, open a new one, close my two credit card accounts from the bills he stole out of my mailbox. Thankfully, because of the vigilance of the bank teller no money was stolen from me. But, what a jerk.

It really angers me that people are that hard up for money that they pull scheme's like this. I cannot press charges against him because he didn't get any money out of it. I'm frustrated that I cannot press charges for forgery though. Ugh! Why does our justice system always protect the predator rather than the victim.

My word of caution to anyone who pays bills and put's them in their own mailbox to mail out, and raises the red flag. You are ONLY raising the red flag to alert the criminals that you have outgoing mail then can take. yourself the heartache and, take any bills you need to pay to a post office or secure postal drop off facility. You will divert all potential problems like this. Also, if you pay a bill and the creditor's note says to include account # on the check, so that it's easier for them to process your payment. DON'T, only put the last 4 digits of your account number on your check. Now if the coupon enclosed in the envelope with your check already has your account number pre-printed on it, well you're basically out of luck if it gets in the criminals hand. Sad and scary, but it happens.

Hope everyone has a safe Labor Day. Don't forget mail doesn't come/or go out on Monday, so REALLY don't leave outgoing bills in your mailbox with the red flag up over the long holiday weekend.



Mommy to those Special Ks said...

WOW! That is totally scary!! I am so glad the bank teller caught on (and I'm glad the theif was an idiot because he'll most likely get caught!). I just watched a movie about stolen indentity and it scared the crud out of me! Sorry you had to shut all your accts. What a pain!

Holly Bartos said...

Crazy! Thankfully I do pretty much alll our bills through online bill pay. But I do occasionally do it the old fashioned way. I'm so glad he didn't get any money! Thanks for the heads up.

Julie said...

Oh my!! So glad you had a smart teller who caught on right away that it was a bad check!

I try to pay my bills online or over the phone, and (in the case of my utilities) in person. I don't usually have stamps at home, which forces me to go to the post office to mail anything.

Now I'm even more glad I do that!

Carole said...

What a jerk! The same thing happened to my mother-in-law not long ago. This thief also ran out of the bank when they wanted to verify something. But we were able to pick up the check and see who forged it. We looked up her name online and it seems she lives a few blocks over from my mom in law. Tim wanted to call the police, but his mom didn't want to "get involved with anything." Sigh.
Will the bank follow up on finding this creep since no money was taken? It seems to me he could be arrested for forgery, too. (?)

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry this happened. but, thank goodness the teller at the bank verified and called you.
Our community has mailboxes that are located in one location...sort of like an apartment does. We have a key all outgoing mail gets distribued there. We didn't trust it much ... so we got a PO Box. It's a pain to run to the Box every day...but we've gotten use to it and the kids think it's cool to go to the Post Office to get mail!

Glad everything turned out okay.


Matt & Cindy Fleharty said...

What a mess!! Girl, would you please have Brooke check her email/myspace before she leaves? My cell phone died and I sent her matt's number so we can meet up tomorrow!! Thanks!

Beckaroo said...

Yikes! I'm glad it wasn't worse than that!
Thanks for voting for me at Tip Junkie!!!
I love your blog. The one about your girlfriends was a great one!

My Semblance of Sanity said...

That teller deserves a RAISE!!!