Second batch of mailed payments stolen from popular post office
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) – You stand in front of the Green Hills Post Office, blue metal, the very symbol of postal security.
At least that’s what one Nashville grandmother thought, throwing not one but three bill payments into one of the collection boxes, thinking she was avoiding potential theft by avoiding putting the payments in her own mailbox and putting the red flag up .
She later checked her bank account.
More than $48,000 was missing.
An ongoing WSMV4 investigation has found it is part of a pattern of crimes that are financially devastating Nashville families.
The Nashville grandmother who asked that we hide the identity of her and her family because she is already a victim of fraud immediately called her son.
“For older people who saved and saved and saved, it was kind of a shock,” her son said.
The family eventually received copies of the three checks they had written and all had been altered to remove the names of the businesses that should have been paid and changed to three different names.
And the amounts were changed too, which ended up deducting more than $48,000 from her account.
One of the checks was made out to a Lumarys Torres for $33,937.17.
“[My mother]actually had to go to the hospital,” her son said. “Doctors determined it was just the stress of dealing with it.”
The family also struggled with their local bank.
The checks were cashed at another bank in Clarksville, so the local bank argued that it was that other bank’s problem to resolve and repay the family.
“You feel very helpless when you can’t find answers,” her son said.
Then her mother looked at WSMV4 Investigates and saw our investigation, which found that another woman had dropped off her bill for NES at the collection box at the Green Hills post office and changed that payment to Lumarys Torres for $9,800.
“[My mother]was completely incredulous,” her son said.
Story of two cheated customers
It meant that two different Nashville women had paid their bills at the same place, and both had had their checks intercepted and altered to pay them to a Lumarys Torres.
The son of the scam victim said they immediately took the findings from our story to their bank, who refunded them in full.
“At the end of the day, we’d like to find out who’s doing this so people don’t have the same nightmare,” her son said.
“Are you frustrated with the mail?” WSMV4 asked inquiringly.
“When they contacted the Post, they washed their hands and absolved themselves of all responsibility,” her son said. “There’s an illusion of security there.”
WSMV4 Investigates contacted the US Postal Service, who referred our questions to the local office of the US Postal Inspector.
“When our viewers see this and ask if it’s safe to use this post office. What would you tell them?” WSMV4 asked inquiringly.
A spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspector was unable to give an interview but responded in an email, reading in part: “Postal inspectors are working with the Metro Nashville Police Department to investigate mail thefts reported by postal customers who have mail in the blue collection.” deposited box in front of the Green Hills post office. We are concerned about these recent mail theft incidents.”
WSMV4 Investigates will continue to monitor developments in this investigation.
Below is the full email instruction from the US Postal Inspector giving tips on how to keep your payments safe at the post office.
Mail theft is a serious federal crime, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Mail inspectors are working with the Metro Nashville Police Department to investigate mail thefts reported by mail customers who left mail in the blue collection box outside the Green Hills Post Office.
We are concerned about these recent mail theft incidents and are asking for the public’s help in solving them.
IF YOU SEE SOMEONE SUSPICIOUS NEAR A MAILBOX OR SEE SOMEONE STEALING MAIL, call the police immediately and then report it to the postal inspectors at 877-876-2455 (say “theft”).
IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR MAIL HAS BEEN STOLEN (even if you didn’t see it), report it immediately by filing an online complaint at www.uspis.gov or by calling 877-876-2455.
PROTECT YOUR MAIL FROM THIEVES
Every day, the US Postal Service securely and efficiently delivers millions of checks, money orders, credit cards, and merchandise. Unfortunately, these items are also attractive to thieves, and as such, postal inspectors work diligently to protect your mail. With deliveries to more than 163 million addresses a day, we can’t do the job alone. Here are some proactive steps both individuals and businesses can take to protect their mail from thieves:
1. Do not leave delivered or outgoing mail unattended. Just as wallets and purses shouldn’t be left in the passenger seat of an unoccupied car overnight, mail and packages shouldn’t be left uncollected in mailboxes or on the porch for long periods of time. And when outgoing mail is placed in a blue collection box, Note the pickup times on the box. As a best practice, mail should not be dropped off after the last collection of the day or on Sundays and public holidays.
2. Hand over outgoing mail to your postman or drop it off at the post office. This prevents the mail from being left unattended.
3. If you don’t receive an expected check or other valuable mail, contact the sender. If they sent it but you didn’t receive it, report it to the postal inspectors.
PROTECT AGAINST IDENTITY DURATION
The US Mail remains one of the safest ways to transmit personal information. In fact, personal data stored electronically is more likely to be compromised, and a single compromise can result in the loss of large amounts of personal data. As of January 2022, the website privacyrights.org reported that since 2005, over 11.7 billion records have been exposed in over 9,000 data breaches. These incidents demonstrate the nature and variety of identity crime we face today.
However, postal inspectors investigate offenses related to the criminal use of the post. When paying for goods or services by check, postal inspectors recommend the following fraud protection practices:
1. Reconcile your accounts at least monthly. Compare the checks you write to your bank statements and contact your bank immediately if you find a discrepancy.
2. If you sent a check to someone who never received it, Contact your bank and stop paying the check.
3. If you discover a fraudulent transaction related to your checking account, Contact your bank immediately and consider closing this account to prevent further fraud.
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