A Mt. Airy couple and a Springfield Township woman reached out to the Local last week to report checks they said were stolen from the USPS collection box in front of the Market Square Post Office.
A Mt. Airy couple and a Springfield Township woman reached out to the Local last week to report checks they said were stolen from the USPS collection box in front of the Market Square Post Office on Crittenden Street in Chestnut Hill.
The sources asked the Local to withhold their names.
The first source, who lives in Mt. Airy, said she started closely monitoring check withdrawals because of the Local’s reporting on the fraud issue.
“I recognized it from the stories you’d done,” the woman said, “and I said ‘Oh my God, it happened to us too.’”
The check was written on July 2 and mailed likely the next day, the source said. It was written for $254.40 and addressed to a landscaping company hired by the woman and her husband. The check cleared on July 15, but when the couple saw a picture of the check on their online banking statement, the payee line didn’t contain the landscaping company. Instead, it contained the name “Sanai Parker” nearly the same as an earlier check the Local published, which read “Sinai Parker.”
“The handwriting on our check is virtually the same,” the source said. “It’s unsettling and disturbing and annoying.”
The rest of the check is in the source’s handwriting.
“The only thing that was changed was the payee,” she said.
The source said she reached out to her bank, PNC Bank, which didn’t advise her to close out her account.
The bank “reassured me that the rest of my bank account seemed to be in order,” she said.
The source said that because of the Local’s reporting, she had already started to write fewer checks. Historically, she had been reluctant to make payments online.
“That always seems chancy to me,” she said, “but I’m now understanding that that may be better.”
Unfortunately for the source, her landscaping bill is one of the few that can’t be paid online.
“I don’t know if I have another way of paying the landscape guy,” she said. “He sends a bill and asks for it to be sent back [via a check].”
Still, the source’s recent stolen and washed check has encouraged her to find ways around writing checks.
“We still use checks, but not as many as we did,” she said. “Maybe we should use fewer.”
The Springfield woman said that an $89 check for a sewer bill her husband mailed outside of Market Square Post Office on July 30 was stolen and washed for $9,800.60. The check cleared Friday, Aug. 6. She woke up Saturday morning to find that a legitimate check she had written had bounced.
“We saw there were no funds in the account and then [my husband] saw the previous day there was a check written for $9,800,” said the source, who lives just across the city limits in Wyndmoor.
The source reported the incident to the Postal Inspection Service and the Springfield Township Police. She also reached out to officials at her bank, Citizens Bank, who told her “they’re familiar with this happening.”
The source said she’d been following the Local’s coverage of stolen checks and stopped mailing as many as a result. The problem is that she’s almost as wary of online payments. She had been a landlord in the past and used a “Zelle-like” online service to collect rent from her tenants. The service was a victim of a scam and she lost money as a result.
“It’s just frustrating,” she said.