Wellesley Police warn that mail fishing continues to be a problem

Wellesley has seen an uptick in stolen checks and other mail-order catches this summer, says Police Lieutenant Mary Cleary. Wellesley Police Department.

According to Lieutenant Cleary, “Since the fall of 2019, the Wellesley Police Department has been periodically inundated with reports of check fraud arising from checks that were placed in US Postal via USPS blue collection boxes across the city.”

Although the US Postal Service has replaced the drop-down handles on mailboxes with slender holes in recent years, the mail hunt continues.

A Wellesley resident, who chose to remain anonymous, became the victim of mail poaching last month, after sending a check from one of the mailboxes outside the Grove Street post office.

Wellesley Square Post Office (Photo by Bella Gonzalez)

The check was originally issued for $400, but they received a notice from their bank a few days later, alerting them to cash a $14,000 check in their name.

After contacting the USPS, it was discovered that areas of the check had been whitewashed to “correct” the name and amount after it was retrieved from the mailbox using double-sided tape.

They said: ‘We’re so thankful these horrible people didn’t get the $14,000, but it was painful for us to change everything, we’re a little neurotic at the moment about everything.’

This story appears to align with police department data, which indicates that “mass mail theft” cases are most common, in which a person(s) raid one or more USPS blue boxes, specifically those outside post offices.

Wellesley Hills Post Office
Wellesley Hills Post Office (Photo by Bella Gonzalez)

At this time, the Wellesley Police Department is recommending that residents take certain precautions, including the following:

  • Do not send mail with checks or money in USPS blue collection boxes. If you must use a collection box, be sure to put your mail in the box before the last collection of the day.
  • Use gel pens when writing personal checks. Gel ink is more resistant to chemical wash-out than standard ballpoint pen ink.
  • Actively monitor your bank statements and follow up with your intended recipients regarding the status of your payments.
  • “Report check fraud to the police department, even if you have been reimbursed by your bank.”

Please send tips, photos and ideas to theswellesleyreport@gmail.com

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