Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Topic Author
benevo
Posts: 127
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:21 am

Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by benevo » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:01 am

Sooooo, I had an interesting evening last night. I realized as I was doing some paperwork that someone I sent a check to a few weeks ago never cashed it. Upon logging into my checking account to look into it, I saw that the check *was* deposited - kind of.

Instead of the $600 check I had written, instead it showed a transaction of $4,000!! :shock: The check number it showed on the account ledger online matched with the one I wrote - but because the date of the transaction processed yesterday, the image wasn't yet available. So, since my checking account bank has a very convenient live chat, I first hopped on there to see if perhaps it was another check and I just forgot writing it (really, I was just telling myself this, as I would've remembered writing a check in that amount).

The bank rep was able to pull up the image on their end and the check was written out to someone I have never heard of before. And the memo line was a series of seemingly random numbers...

So, I called them up and spoke to the fraud team who started the case.

Also worth noting: I mailed the check (in a protected envelope, too) from a post office mailbox. I really only use 3 - 1 near work in a residential community, and 2 outside of Post Offices. I'm assuming it must have been stolen from the first, but just my guess. And assuming that's how they got my check, I think that means this is both check fraud and mail fraud. I hope they find the person who did this. Also, since the check was deposited - I think Friday or yesterday - I'm really hopeful there's still time for the bank to cancel it from their end.

Has anyone else experienced this before? I'm upset and confused how it was seemingly so simple for someone to take my check out of the mail, write a new check (I imagine not that hard on the computer to replicate a new but fake check...), and cash it without anyone noticing.

UGH! I really, really, hope the bank is able to get me my money back. Do I have any legal recourse if they can't?

stan1
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by stan1 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:08 am

Given the amount involved I would file a police report. I'm surprised the bank didn't ask you to do that. Keep working with the bank fraud unit. I think you will get your money back but it may take a few weeks. Be firm and persistent but always polite. You need something from the bank employees at this point so you want them on your side. I would only cite facts. Let the bank and police speculate about theories or try to figure out who did it.

spectec
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by spectec » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:09 am

That is interesting. Was the check mailed to a street address or a PO Box/Lockbox address? If to a street address, then the check could have been removed from the recipient's street-side mail mail box. But if it went into a US Post office drop box and destined to a secure box, this could be a much more serious situation. Another thing you might want to do is inquire if perhaps there was a break in or damage to the Postal Service mail box you dropped the letter into on the day you mailed it. Sorry, but I don't know the answers to your questions about recourse.
Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it. - Will Rogers

pennybags873
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:40 pm

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by pennybags873 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:26 am

Getting a Check stolen is an old school scam.
The thief will use a 'sticky trap' for mice and go 'fishing'.

Like most people, I don't write many Checks anymore, 3-4 per year.

To protect myself, I will always:
1) Purchase High Security Checks from the Bank
2) Use a gel-pen to fill out Check. Prevents check washing
3) Place envelope & check in the box located inside of Post Office

Sounds like you caught this in time.
Follow the Banks procedures and document who you spoke with and what was said.
GOOD LUCK

You will also have to contact the person you wrote the 'original' Check to and explain why they have not been paid yet.

theplayer11
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Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:55 pm

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by theplayer11 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:41 am

how was the criminal able to change the $$ amount and the written amount on the check?

neatep
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Location: Australia

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by neatep » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:41 am

600 to 4000 just seems an awkward number to change it to.

How did they do it? Did they turn the 6 into a 0 and add a 4 at the front? Or what? Or scrape off the bottom left of the 6 and draw a straight line down?

Its always surprised me that cheques were so common in America. I have probably only seen 3 in the past 15 years. And one of those was from an American company.

keystone
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Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:34 pm

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by keystone » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:48 am

I had to deal with a check fraud case here at work. We sent a check to a consultant, the check was cashed, the consultant claimed he never received the check. When I looked at the image of the canceled check, there were no endorsements or any markings on the back of the check.

I opened a fraud case with our bank, they requested that the intended recipient sign and notarize an affidavit that he did not receive the check. The consultant did this immediately, but then the process dragged on for months and months. Later I received word that the bank that cleared the check denied our fraud claim because it went to the intended recipient (the person that we made the check out to). I was fairly certain at this point that they were wrong because we had dealt with this consultant for many years and I knew it was unlikely he was going to risk his good standing relationship with of us over a relatively insignificant amount. So then I had to report back to our bank that we disputed the beneficiary bank's findings. Fast forward several more months and we finally received our money. From start to finish the process took about 6 months and that included lots of pressing by me to accelerate things. Whatever little faith I had in big banks before this case was completely gone after dealing with this issue.

I doubt your case will take as long as mine, but be prepared for things to take longer than you'd like. Good luck!

Rupert
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by Rupert » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:55 am

The check may have been stolen from the post office box, but it may also have been stolen by a postal employee. In addition to filing a police report with your local authorities, I would report it to your local postmaster and see if the postal inspectors might get involved. Regardless of where it was stolen from, it's a federal crime -- theft of mail matter (postal inspector jurisdiction), bank fraud (FBI jurisdiction, assuming the bank was federally insured).

Topic Author
benevo
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Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:21 am

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by benevo » Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:27 am

Thanks all for the replies.

For those suggesting I file a police report - would I do that in the county/area I live in? I ask, because I live between 2 counties in 2 states - and may have mailed it from either one.

DavidRoseMountain
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by DavidRoseMountain » Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:36 am

benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:27 am
Thanks all for the replies.

For those suggesting I file a police report - would I do that in the county/area I live in? I ask, because I live between 2 counties in 2 states - and may have mailed it from either one.
Based on the previous post it sounds like federal authorities, FBI, Postmaster need to have reports.

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beyou
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by beyou » Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:45 am

Good reason to pay as much as possible, electronically.
Credit cards are safest, then ACH/wire transfers.
No good can come from mailing checks.

Even when you use online bill pay and they mail a check, it is PRINTED not handwritten.
You have your bank printing the check, they know how much THEY made it out for, they can't accuse you
of writing a $4000 check when THEY sent a check for $600 !

Topic Author
benevo
Posts: 127
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:21 am

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by benevo » Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:48 am

DavidRoseMountain wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:36 am
benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:27 am
Thanks all for the replies.

For those suggesting I file a police report - would I do that in the county/area I live in? I ask, because I live between 2 counties in 2 states - and may have mailed it from either one.
Based on the previous post it sounds like federal authorities, FBI, Postmaster need to have reports.
Would you recommend I let my bank know before I submit that report? Sorry if that's a dumb question.

DavidRoseMountain
Posts: 170
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2014 3:27 pm

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by DavidRoseMountain » Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:52 am

benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:48 am
DavidRoseMountain wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:36 am
benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:27 am
Thanks all for the replies.

For those suggesting I file a police report - would I do that in the county/area I live in? I ask, because I live between 2 counties in 2 states - and may have mailed it from either one.
Based on the previous post it sounds like federal authorities, FBI, Postmaster need to have reports.
Would you recommend I let my bank know before I submit that report? Sorry if that's a dumb question.
Yes the more communication the better.


sport
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by sport » Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:19 am

blevine wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:45 am
No good can come from mailing checks.
The only way one can make a QCD is by mailing a check (or hand delivering the check).

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FGal
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by FGal » Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:24 am

For all of you asking how they changed the amounts, it is a simple procedure called "check washing" using a solvent to remove the ink and then end up with a lovely blank check they could write out to anyone for any amount.

Most ballpoint pens can be removed with nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Check_washing
FIREd as of March 2015!

bryanm
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by bryanm » Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:46 am

My hunch is that you get your money back. It's been a long time since I studied the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), but cashing a check with a fraudulent endorsement is usually on the cashing bank. Your bank should refund the money to you, then go after the cashing bank to get the money back. (I am a lawyer but not your lawyer, etc. etc.)

I was on the receiving end of something similar—a check made out to me was stolen from my mailbox. I never even knew except that they caught the person and found the check before it was cashed. Didn't have to deal with banks due to that, but the postal service had me sign an affidavit to help conflict the perp. I second speaking with the post office. If someone was fishing for checks, they may have multiple reports.

letsgobobby
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by letsgobobby » Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:58 am

deleted
Last edited by letsgobobby on Fri Apr 26, 2019 9:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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beyou
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by beyou » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:39 am

letsgobobby wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:58 am
I still have to write a number of checks, more than you all apparently. It's at least 1-2 per month. Clark Howard has discussed this fishing before. I need to get a gel pen.
Why ? You can send a bank check via online bill payment to anyone anywhere ?
As I said before, the check is printed not handwritten (no washing) and the bank sending it knows the correct amount.
It can still be lost, but it can't be altered so easily. I would think an easier discussion with the bank, that "the check they mailed never made it" vs
the check you yourself mailed never made it.

straws46
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Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2015 11:12 am

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by straws46 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:42 am

Two things could have happened. The check could have been used as a template to create a forgery, in which case you never signed it and it cannot lawfully be charged against your account. Or, it could have been "washed" as a previous poster stated. In that case it is your actual signature on the original check, but the name of the payee and the amount have been changed. If only the amount was altered it can be charged against you only to the extent of the original amount, but since the payee's name was also altered it would be a forged endorsement and not properly chargeable to your account. Whether it was washed or counterfeited makes a difference as to whether the depositary bank or the payor bank bears the loss, but you should get your money back either way.

Topic Author
benevo
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Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:21 am

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by benevo » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:12 pm

Update:

Got a copy of the image of the check. They definitely cleared everything except my signature - super creepy. Pay to name, date, amount (with a cross out), the written amount, and the memo line. The memo line was changed and is now XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX (random numbers - bank account or CC #? Starts with 4117 which I think is Visa?). Also odd, you can almost see what appears to be the previous text a bit under the text on top.

Bringing this to the police department this evening.

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dm200
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Location: Washington DC area

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by dm200 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:19 pm

benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:12 pm
Update:

Got a copy of the image of the check. They definitely cleared everything except my signature - super creepy. Pay to name, date, amount (with a cross out), the written amount, and the memo line. The memo line was changed and is now XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX (random numbers - bank account or CC #? Starts with 4117 which I think is Visa?). Also odd, you can almost see what appears to be the previous text a bit under the text on top.

Bringing this to the police department this evening.
Good luck.

The bank records should show what bank (or credit union) accepted and paid this check and to whom and probably for what. Not sure if the actual paper check is kept for a period of time, but I would press for the paper check to be examined as well.

tesuzuki2002
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by tesuzuki2002 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:29 pm

Mail theft happens weekly in the area that I live in. I tell everyone to NEVER NEVER send me a check. they break into the gang box units weekly.. and the first of the month it's usually 2 or 3 in a week. That's when all the benefits and rent checks usually get mailed...

I just try to keep everything electronic these days...

tesuzuki2002
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Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2015 12:40 pm

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by tesuzuki2002 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:29 pm

Mail theft happens weekly in the area that I live in. I tell everyone to NEVER NEVER send me a check. they break into the gang box units weekly.. and the first of the month it's usually 2 or 3 in a week. That's when all the benefits and rent checks usually get mailed...

I just try to keep everything electronic these days...

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FlyAF
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by FlyAF » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:42 pm

blevine wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:39 am
letsgobobby wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:58 am
I still have to write a number of checks, more than you all apparently. It's at least 1-2 per month. Clark Howard has discussed this fishing before. I need to get a gel pen.
Why ? You can send a bank check via online bill payment to anyone anywhere ?
As I said before, the check is printed not handwritten (no washing) and the bank sending it knows the correct amount.
It can still be lost, but it can't be altered so easily. I would think an easier discussion with the bank, that "the check they mailed never made it" vs
the check you yourself mailed never made it.
I'm curious about this. The only check I have to write is for my mortgage. I can certainly log into my bank and have them cut a check for lets say $1500.00 which is all fine and well. But lets say I want to send $2,000.00 and have an extra $500.00 put towards the principle. I would assume if they received this check, they would apply the extra to the principle, but.......you know, assumptions and all. The part of my statement that I return w/ my payment has an area to fill out that specifies what to do with the extra. How can you accomplish this piece if you're not the one sending the payment?

I hate checks and want to be done with them.

kaudrey
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by kaudrey » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:55 pm

FlyAF wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:42 pm
blevine wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:39 am
letsgobobby wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:58 am
I still have to write a number of checks, more than you all apparently. It's at least 1-2 per month. Clark Howard has discussed this fishing before. I need to get a gel pen.
Why ? You can send a bank check via online bill payment to anyone anywhere ?
As I said before, the check is printed not handwritten (no washing) and the bank sending it knows the correct amount.
It can still be lost, but it can't be altered so easily. I would think an easier discussion with the bank, that "the check they mailed never made it" vs
the check you yourself mailed never made it.
I'm curious about this. The only check I have to write is for my mortgage. I can certainly log into my bank and have them cut a check for lets say $1500.00 which is all fine and well. But lets say I want to send $2,000.00 and have an extra $500.00 put towards the principle. I would assume if they received this check, they would apply the extra to the principle, but.......you know, assumptions and all. The part of my statement that I return w/ my payment has an area to fill out that specifies what to do with the extra. How can you accomplish this piece if you're not the one sending the payment?

I hate checks and want to be done with them.
I pay my mortgage electronically every month with extra toward principal. I just put a note in the "memo" part when I originally set up the monthly payment. Works every month like clockwork.

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dm200
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Location: Washington DC area

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by dm200 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:55 pm

I/we still write a lot of checks to pay bills and have never had a problem. Hope it continues.

Pigeye Brewster
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by Pigeye Brewster » Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:01 pm

kaudrey wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:55 pm
FlyAF wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:42 pm
blevine wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:39 am
letsgobobby wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:58 am
I still have to write a number of checks, more than you all apparently. It's at least 1-2 per month. Clark Howard has discussed this fishing before. I need to get a gel pen.
Why ? You can send a bank check via online bill payment to anyone anywhere ?
As I said before, the check is printed not handwritten (no washing) and the bank sending it knows the correct amount.
It can still be lost, but it can't be altered so easily. I would think an easier discussion with the bank, that "the check they mailed never made it" vs
the check you yourself mailed never made it.
I'm curious about this. The only check I have to write is for my mortgage. I can certainly log into my bank and have them cut a check for lets say $1500.00 which is all fine and well. But lets say I want to send $2,000.00 and have an extra $500.00 put towards the principle. I would assume if they received this check, they would apply the extra to the principle, but.......you know, assumptions and all. The part of my statement that I return w/ my payment has an area to fill out that specifies what to do with the extra. How can you accomplish this piece if you're not the one sending the payment?

I hate checks and want to be done with them.
I pay my mortgage electronically every month with extra toward principal. I just put a note in the "memo" part when I originally set up the monthly payment. Works every month like clockwork.
I also pay electronically and include extra principal. But there is no "memo" part, just a "comment" field that it states is not seen by the payee. With one exception, the mortgage company has always applied the extra towards principal. The exception was when the extra exceeded my scheduled payment and they applied the extra to the next month's payment. I emailed them and they corrected it.

Normchad
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by Normchad » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:29 pm

This happened to me, and I found the entire process fascinating and educational.

My check was stolen from my homes mailbox in front of my house, changed, and cashed the same day. They took the check to my bank branch in the next county over. Since it was drawn on that bank, they were able to cash the entire thing, for over $1,200.

I reported it to the bank immediately, and they made me whole. I reported it to the local police, and this is where it gets educational. The police do not have jurisdiction over the inside of my mailbox, so no crime happened there that the local police can help with. And since it was cashed in the next county over, I had to work with that police department. So I filed a fraud report with the next county over.

The police recommeneded I also contact the postal inspector, so I did. They came out to my house, took my report, etc. they were very earnest, very professional, and very otivated to maintain my trust and faith in the postal service. One tip from them, don’t put up the red flag when you’re sending mail. So few people send checks anymore, this crime is pretty rare now. But criminals will cruise the neighborhood just looking for flags that are up.

My bank has the picture and exact name of the person that cashed the check. There is a warrant out for their arrest, so next time they interact with the police, they’ll be detained. This happened about a year ago, I still have t heard anything. The police called multiple times, checking to be sure that I would testify if they catch the person. I said I would be there. Obviously they don’t want to spend time on it if I won’t show up.

The postal inspector said a lot of times the person that cashes the check isn’t the real criminal. The real criminal stays in the car, out of sight of the bank camera, and hires a homeless person to cash the checks. I’ve got to admit, if that’s the case, I’d have a hard time testifying and potentially sending them to jail.

ANyhow, my bank totally hooked me up. I don’t think they’re required by law to do that though, so I’m very grateful they didn’t give me a lot of hassle about it.

JGoneRiding
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by JGoneRiding » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:45 pm

FlyAF wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:42 pm
blevine wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:39 am
letsgobobby wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:58 am
I still have to write a number of checks, more than you all apparently. It's at least 1-2 per month. Clark Howard has discussed this fishing before. I need to get a gel pen.
Why ? You can send a bank check via online bill payment to anyone anywhere ?
As I said before, the check is printed not handwritten (no washing) and the bank sending it knows the correct amount.
It can still be lost, but it can't be altered so easily. I would think an easier discussion with the bank, that "the check they mailed never made it" vs
the check you yourself mailed never made it.
I'm curious about this. The only check I have to write is for my mortgage. I can certainly log into my bank and have them cut a check for lets say $1500.00 which is all fine and well. But lets say I want to send $2,000.00 and have an extra $500.00 put towards the principle. I would assume if they received this check, they would apply the extra to the principle, but.......you know, assumptions and all. The part of my statement that I return w/ my payment has an area to fill out that specifies what to do with the extra. How can you accomplish this piece if you're not the one sending the payment?

I hate checks and want to be done with them.
I accomplish this easily by doing it on my mortgage end. I log into my mortgage account and either set up an extra auto payment or make a payment where generally there is a box to check for extra principle or escrow

spectec
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Joined: Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:00 am

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by spectec » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:07 pm

dm200 wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:55 pm
I/we still write a lot of checks to pay bills and have never had a problem. Hope it continues.
Nobody ever has a problem with anything... until they have a problem. :)
Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it. - Will Rogers

Loon11
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Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:07 pm

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by Loon11 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:31 pm

I am wondering how to send in quarterly taxes to the IRS without writing a check. Anyone doing anything else?

Laren
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Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:06 am

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by Laren » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:39 pm

You can pay federal estimated taxes electronically directly from your bank account. Go to

https://www.eftps.gov/eftps/

and sign up. You can set up automatic payments, or initiate each payment yourself. It's worked really well for me.

My state also has a way to pay online - check out your state's Department of Revenue website.

brennok
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Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:18 pm

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by brennok » Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:59 pm

Not sure if this went to a person's home address or a business, but if a home address you may want to see if they are signed up for the USPS service that emails you a scan of the incoming mail. If so they should be able to go through the images to see if it hit their mailbox or at least their local post office.

Loon11
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Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:07 pm

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by Loon11 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:31 pm

Thanks Laren! will check it out - great valuable info

denovo
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by denovo » Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:22 am

benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:01 am
Sooooo, I had an interesting evening last night. I realized as I was doing some paperwork that someone I sent a check to a few weeks ago never cashed it. Upon logging into my checking account to look into it, I saw that the check *was* deposited - kind of.

Instead of the $600 check I had written, instead it showed a transaction of $4,000!! :shock: The check number it showed on the account ledger online matched with the one I wrote - but because the date of the transaction processed yesterday, the image wasn't yet available. So, since my checking account bank has a very convenient live chat, I first hopped on there to see if perhaps it was another check and I just forgot writing it (really, I was just telling myself this, as I would've remembered writing a check in that amount).

The bank rep was able to pull up the image on their end and the check was written out to someone I have never heard of before. And the memo line was a series of seemingly random numbers...

So, I called them up and spoke to the fraud team who started the case.

Also worth noting: I mailed the check (in a protected envelope, too) from a post office mailbox. I really only use 3 - 1 near work in a residential community, and 2 outside of Post Offices. I'm assuming it must have been stolen from the first, but just my guess. And assuming that's how they got my check, I think that means this is both check fraud and mail fraud. I hope they find the person who did this. Also, since the check was deposited - I think Friday or yesterday - I'm really hopeful there's still time for the bank to cancel it from their end.

Has anyone else experienced this before? I'm upset and confused how it was seemingly so simple for someone to take my check out of the mail, write a new check (I imagine not that hard on the computer to replicate a new but fake check...), and cash it without anyone noticing.

UGH! I really, really, hope the bank is able to get me my money back. Do I have any legal recourse if they can't?

OP, this is unfortunately getting more common. I do not send checks in the mail anymore to anyone, period.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

capsaicinguy
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2016 9:00 am

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by capsaicinguy » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:06 am

benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:12 pm
Update:

Got a copy of the image of the check. They definitely cleared everything except my signature - super creepy. Pay to name, date, amount (with a cross out), the written amount, and the memo line. The memo line was changed and is now XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX (random numbers - bank account or CC #? Starts with 4117 which I think is Visa?). Also odd, you can almost see what appears to be the previous text a bit under the text on top.

Bringing this to the police department this evening.
Maybe they put it on a prepaid Visa?

likegarden
Posts: 2932
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 5:33 pm

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by likegarden » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:10 am

We never had a problem with checks, We pay most bills with checks since 1968. We never put mail to be sent into the mail box at our house, always bring letters inside the post office and drop it into their 'Letters' slot.

Rupert
Posts: 4122
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:01 pm

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by Rupert » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:46 am

Normchad wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:29 pm

The postal inspector said a lot of times the person that cashes the check isn’t the real criminal. The real criminal stays in the car, out of sight of the bank camera, and hires a homeless person to cash the checks. I’ve got to admit, if that’s the case, I’d have a hard time testifying and potentially sending them to jail.
This is unfortunately true. Often the ringleaders will drive into town (not their town), round up a bunch of homeless people, and have them use the checks to make purchases at local stores. Walmart seems to be a popular target (I guess because the ringleaders can easily return that merchandise for cash at another Walmart store elsewhere). Then the ringleaders drive off to the next town, and often only the homeless people get prosecuted.

criticalmass
Posts: 1402
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by criticalmass » Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:03 am

brennok wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:59 pm
Not sure if this went to a person's home address or a business, but if a home address you may want to see if they are signed up for the USPS service that emails you a scan of the incoming mail. If so they should be able to go through the images to see if it hit their mailbox or at least their local post office.
This service is informed delivery. After registering with the post office website, you get a scanned image of your incoming mail at the usps website and/or via an email each morning.

Just keep in mind that the imaging is done at your regional processing & distribution center/sectional center, not at your delivering post office in most cases. But it could tell you if the check made it to the destination region versus getting intercepted at the origin. The scans include (most of) your letters, but not most magazines and certain bulk/junk mail that doesn't have an address.

Topic Author
benevo
Posts: 127
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:21 am

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by benevo » Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:14 am

capsaicinguy wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:06 am
benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:12 pm
Update:

Got a copy of the image of the check. They definitely cleared everything except my signature - super creepy. Pay to name, date, amount (with a cross out), the written amount, and the memo line. The memo line was changed and is now XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX (random numbers - bank account or CC #? Starts with 4117 which I think is Visa?). Also odd, you can almost see what appears to be the previous text a bit under the text on top.

Bringing this to the police department this evening.
Maybe they put it on a prepaid Visa?
That's my bet! I didn't even know you could do that with a check. Ugh.

MikeG62
Posts: 2297
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2016 3:20 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by MikeG62 » Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:11 am

benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:12 pm
Update:

Got a copy of the image of the check. They definitely cleared everything except my signature - super creepy. Pay to name, date, amount (with a cross out), the written amount, and the memo line. The memo line was changed and is now XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX (random numbers - bank account or CC #? Starts with 4117 which I think is Visa?). Also odd, you can almost see what appears to be the previous text a bit under the text on top.

Bringing this to the police department this evening.
Who was the pay to changed to? Where was it presented for payment - at a bank or elsewhere?

Trying to understand how the check was accepted and how this person walked aaay with $6,000 cash.
Real Knowledge Comes Only From Experience

Topic Author
benevo
Posts: 127
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:21 am

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by benevo » Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:41 am

MikeG62 wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:11 am
benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:12 pm
Update:

Got a copy of the image of the check. They definitely cleared everything except my signature - super creepy. Pay to name, date, amount (with a cross out), the written amount, and the memo line. The memo line was changed and is now XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX (random numbers - bank account or CC #? Starts with 4117 which I think is Visa?). Also odd, you can almost see what appears to be the previous text a bit under the text on top.

Bringing this to the police department this evening.
Who was the pay to changed to? Where was it presented for payment - at a bank or elsewhere?

Trying to understand how the check was accepted and how this person walked aaay with $6,000 cash.
Made out to a person's name I've never heard of. And no clue. The back of the check when I saw the image was blank, which I was told can happen if the accepting bank (or maybe check cashing, is my naive assumption) doesn't need to stamp it.

MikeG62
Posts: 2297
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2016 3:20 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by MikeG62 » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:20 pm

benevo wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:41 am
MikeG62 wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:11 am
benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:12 pm
Update:

Got a copy of the image of the check. They definitely cleared everything except my signature - super creepy. Pay to name, date, amount (with a cross out), the written amount, and the memo line. The memo line was changed and is now XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX (random numbers - bank account or CC #? Starts with 4117 which I think is Visa?). Also odd, you can almost see what appears to be the previous text a bit under the text on top.

Bringing this to the police department this evening.
Who was the pay to changed to? Where was it presented for payment - at a bank or elsewhere?

Trying to understand how the check was accepted and how this person walked aaay with $6,000 cash.
Made out to a person's name I've never heard of. And no clue. The back of the check when I saw the image was blank, which I was told can happen if the accepting bank (or maybe check cashing, is my naive assumption) doesn't need to stamp it.
Still seems so odd. So the person who the check was made out to did not endorse the back of the check? I would have thought the check would not be accepted without the endorsement.

Sounds like the check was presented and cashed out upon presentation (not deposited into any account)?

Now that they have the name of the person who presented the check for payment (understand it is possible that is not the person who washed the check) and possibly where it was presented for payment is it not possible to track that person down? Perhaps this depends on where it was presented?

Just trying to wrap my head around the facts in this case.
Real Knowledge Comes Only From Experience

Topic Author
benevo
Posts: 127
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:21 am

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by benevo » Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:45 pm

MikeG62 wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:20 pm
Still seems so odd. So the person who the check was made out to did not endorse the back of the check? I would have thought the check would not be accepted without the endorsement.

Sounds like the check was presented and cashed out upon presentation (not deposited into any account)?

Now that they have the name of the person who presented the check for payment (understand it is possible that is not the person who washed the check) and possibly where it was presented for payment is it not possible to track that person down? Perhaps this depends on where it was presented?

Just trying to wrap my head around the facts in this case.
Haha, you and me both! Yes, that's what it seems like to me. Police seemed very interested - I honestly thought they were gonna dismiss it. I'm fascinated what happens - as long as I get my money back, I won't stay mad but just highly curious.

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dm200
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Location: Washington DC area

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by dm200 » Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:53 pm

MikeG62 wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:20 pm
benevo wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:41 am
MikeG62 wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:11 am
benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:12 pm
Update:
Got a copy of the image of the check. They definitely cleared everything except my signature - super creepy. Pay to name, date, amount (with a cross out), the written amount, and the memo line. The memo line was changed and is now XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX (random numbers - bank account or CC #? Starts with 4117 which I think is Visa?). Also odd, you can almost see what appears to be the previous text a bit under the text on top.
Bringing this to the police department this evening.
Who was the pay to changed to? Where was it presented for payment - at a bank or elsewhere?
Trying to understand how the check was accepted and how this person walked aaay with $6,000 cash.
Made out to a person's name I've never heard of. And no clue. The back of the check when I saw the image was blank, which I was told can happen if the accepting bank (or maybe check cashing, is my naive assumption) doesn't need to stamp it.
Still seems so odd. So the person who the check was made out to did not endorse the back of the check? I would have thought the check would not be accepted without the endorsement.

Sounds like the check was presented and cashed out upon presentation (not deposited into any account)?

Now that they have the name of the person who presented the check for payment (understand it is possible that is not the person who washed the check) and possibly where it was presented for payment is it not possible to track that person down? Perhaps this depends on where it was presented?

Just trying to wrap my head around the facts in this case.
Banks and credit unions sometimes accept checks without the endorsement. it seems to me that this check can be reliably traced back to the bank or credit union where it was first deposited - and then THAT bank or credit union would be responsible for absorbing the fraud. I also think it possible that there may have been some insider fraud to assist this as well.

User avatar
beyou
Posts: 2894
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Location: Northeastern US

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by beyou » Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:31 pm

Folks paying physically by checks (and cash) absolutely are dying. My kids don't even know how to write out a check.
They pay people with venmo and bills by credit or debit card. They rarely go to an ATM for cash even.

Yes some exceptions :

local gov/school districts
wedding gifts

But these are generally not sent in the mail, they are hand delivered.

The post office is dying too....I have a book of stamps on my desk that I purchased YEARS ago.
Just don't need to mail anything, checks or otherwise.

User avatar
watchnerd
Posts: 2518
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by watchnerd » Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:09 pm

pennybags873 wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:26 am
Getting a Check stolen is an old school scam.
The thief will use a 'sticky trap' for mice and go 'fishing'.

Like most people, I don't write many Checks anymore, 3-4 per year.

To protect myself, I will always:
1) Purchase High Security Checks from the Bank
2) Use a gel-pen to fill out Check. Prevents check washing
3) Place envelope & check in the box located inside of Post Office

Sounds like you caught this in time.
Follow the Banks procedures and document who you spoke with and what was said.
GOOD LUCK

You will also have to contact the person you wrote the 'original' Check to and explain why they have not been paid yet.
What is a gel pen?
70% Global Market Weight Equities | 15% Long Treasuries 15% short TIPS & cash || RSU + ESPP

ReadyOrNot
Posts: 243
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2016 1:51 pm

Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by ReadyOrNot » Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:39 pm

Some pens are sold as particularly good for signing documents because their ink is supposed to be resistant to washing from paper fibers. Some of them may have gel ink. But not all gel inks are permanent.

User avatar
Hulahoop60
Posts: 47
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Re: Someone stole my check from the mail, changed the amount, and deposited it

Post by Hulahoop60 » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:42 pm

benevo wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:01 am
Sooooo, I had an interesting evening last night. I realized as I was doing some paperwork that someone I sent a check to a few weeks ago never cashed it. Upon logging into my checking account to look into it, I saw that the check *was* deposited - kind of.

Instead of the $600 check I had written, instead it showed a transaction of $4,000!! :shock: The check number it showed on the account ledger online matched with the one I wrote - but because the date of the transaction processed yesterday, the image wasn't yet available. So, since my checking account bank has a very convenient live chat, I first hopped on there to see if perhaps it was another check and I just forgot writing it (really, I was just telling myself this, as I would've remembered writing a check in that amount).

The bank rep was able to pull up the image on their end and the check was written out to someone I have never heard of before. And the memo line was a series of seemingly random numbers...

So, I called them up and spoke to the fraud team who started the case.

Also worth noting: I mailed the check (in a protected envelope, too) from a post office mailbox. I really only use 3 - 1 near work in a residential community, and 2 outside of Post Offices. I'm assuming it must have been stolen from the first, but just my guess. And assuming that's how they got my check, I think that means this is both check fraud and mail fraud. I hope they find the person who did this. Also, since the check was deposited - I think Friday or yesterday - I'm really hopeful there's still time for the bank to cancel it from their end.

Has anyone else experienced this before? I'm upset and confused how it was seemingly so simple for someone to take my check out of the mail, write a new check (I imagine not that hard on the computer to replicate a new but fake check...), and cash it without anyone noticing.

UGH! I really, really, hope the bank is able to get me my money back. Do I have any legal recourse if they can't?
This has been happening in my neighborhood and has happened to several of my neighbors. A $50 check turning into thousands. It turns out someone had the key to the mailboxes and would simply open the box and take all the mail - caught on security camera. I only take my mail to the post office now, but one of my neighbors said that this happened to a check they mailed at the post office. Unfortunately, I have one service that takes checks only so I worry about this each month. I actually googled what pen to use to prevent fraud, and the uni-ball gel pen was recommended.

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