Someone is reading my mail

Yes, indeed, someone is reading my mail. 

Literally.

Someone broke into my building's mail boxes during Easter weekend and stole all of our mail.  The experience has been.... um, interesting.

What To Do When Your Mail Box Is Broken Into

You file two reports.  One with the Postmaster in your area.  The other with the police in your town.  I did both of those.  What is interesting is that I learned from Officer Johnson of the Temecula Police that the actual victim in this case is the Postmaster General, not me.  The mail boxes are actually his property, not mine or the building's. 

Next I let our clients know the theft had taken place and referenced the fact that I had made the police report.  Luckily, most of our work is transmitted through the internet but we do receive certificates from the reporters as well as exhibits.  I personally sent a letter via fax and email to our clients letting them what was going on.

What To Do When Clients' Checks Are Stolen And A Third Party Forges Their Name On The Checks And Takes Them To Wal-Mart To Cash Them

It's not long after we discovered the theft that two clients reported to us that they discovered two checks that they had written to us were cashed at checking cashing places under a different name.  In one instance, even the amount had been changed.  The check originally was written for $230.00 and the thief/forger changed it to $830.00. 

I was flabbergasted.  I didn't know it was so easy to forge checks.  And I certainly didn't suspect that the good folks at Wal-Mart would honor them.  But it is.  And they did.

So, it's back to the police to add the evidence of the cashed checks to the police reports.  I learned through this process that it's best to put in writing everything that you report to the officers so there is a paper trail with times and dates for yours and the officers' easy reference.  In fact, I created a special secured login on my website for all of the parties involved -- the victims and the police.  Not once but twice the officers on this case -- from two different cities where checks were cashed -- applauded my 'detective' skills. 

Things I Didn't Know About Check Fraud

  • It's extremely rampant especially since the economy tanked.
  • It's fairly easy to do as long as you are a criminal mastermind and are good with Wite-Out Correction Tape and a typewriter.
  • Check cashing places -- even Wal-Mart -- are not as vigilant as they should be for forged checks.

Lucky For Me That...

  • The thief apparently only cashed two checks in total.
  • Wal-Mart had surveillance footage but no fingerprint of the culprit.
  • A check cashing place had a fingerprint but no surveillance footage.
  • The cities of Temecula and San Marcos California have awesome detectives who actually follow-up with leads and care about justice.
  • My clients' money was refunded to them by their own banks and they re-issued payment to me which -- by the grace of God -- arrived safely and securely in my mail without incident.  :)

As For The Gentleman Who Did This...
I received a call from one of the detectives working this case.  He informed me that the culprit was caught in Murrieta, California (a neighboring town to my office) attempting further robberies/fraud; plead guilty to the charges and received a four-year prison term.

 


Friday, July 01, 2011

Author
Todd Olivas

Todd Olivas is a court reporter and entrepreneur.
He founded TO&A in 2003.


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