'Mailbox Fishing, Check Washing' Scam

Crooks use flypaper on a line to pull mail from USPS mail boxes to steal checks. They then "wash" and rewrite checks to cash them illegally.

Police on the Main Line are warning residents of another scam that hit a local resident.

Tredyffrin Township Police said they were alerted to a "mailbox fishing and check washing" scam that swindled a local resident and have heard reports of similar scams in the area.

The scam is much more primitive than the Bitcoin extortions that have been making rounds in the Main Line area, in that the suspects simply use a fly-paper on a line to pull envelopes out of Postal Service boxes, police said.

Then, the crooks take checks from the envelopes – often made out to s service provider to pay a bill – and "wash" the ink off them to then rewrite checks to themselves with higher amounts.

Those checks are then illegally cashed at banks.

Police said most victims don't realize they are victims until they get notifications that payments have not been made

Police offered these tips, courtesy of the United States Postal Service, to help protect yourself from these scams:

  • Consider making your payments electronically.
  • Drop envelopes containing payment checks or other personal information INSIDE at your local Post Office; if you do use outside boxes, or leave them in your home box to be collected, try to deposit mail shortly before the scheduled pick-up time.
  • Write checks out with pens containing pigmented ink; they're harder to "wash" without damaging the check.

Anyone who see suspicious activity is urged to contact police.

Bennett, Max. (2018, July 8). Main Line Police Warn Of 'Mailbox Fishing, Check Washing' Scam. Retrieved from https://patch.com/pennsylvania/radnor/main-line-police-warn-mailbox-fish....

Image via Carly Baldwin/Patch staff