When you drop your mail off at the post office, there’s a sense of trust that comes with it.  You hope the US Postal Service will get your mail to its final destination in a timely manner without incident. But sometimes, crazy sh*t happens, like the following story.

One Southie resident dropped his mail in the mailbox outside of the post office on East Third Street.  Included in his mail was a check made out to Eversource for $118.66. When he checked his bank statement via the Rockland Trust mobile app, he noticed a $5000 discrepancy in his checking account. The original check to Eversource had been altered, forged, and cashed for $5000 – made out to an unknown individual. Gheesh!

The resident when to the East Broadway branch of Rockland Trust to report the fraudulent check transaction and fill out the appropriate forms.  The assistant manager assured him she would immediately send them to the bank fraud department. His next stop was to C-6 Boston Police Station on West Broadway, where he filed a BPD police report for check fraud. He then returned to the bank and gave a copy of the BPD incident report number.
After that, he went to the South Boston Post Office and tried to file a report with the postmaster. At first, he told the clerk behind the counter he’d like to speak with the postmaster directly.  That unfortunately never happened due to the fact after waiting twenty minutes, the postmaster never came out of her office.  The clerk then handed him a business card and told him to call the United States Postal Inspector’s Office phone number. On July, 19th, he called the number and filed a report over the phone and was given a service request number.  As of Wednesday, July 26th, he has not heard back from the inspector’s office.
This is not the first case of the same fraudulent situation.  In addition to this resident’s story, another South Boston woman experienced the same situation with a check put in the mailbox at the post office on East Third ended in $4500 missing from her checking account.

How is this happening?

It’s something called “check washing,”   where criminals steal signed checks from postal boxes, then use nail polish remover to remove the dollar amount and the name of the “payee” or recipient. After that, they rewrite the checks for a new recipient and a much larger amount and then cash the check.  Yikes!

Evidently, this practice is on the rise! Back in February, the following alert was issued. 

So how are these criminals getting their hands on checks?

According to an article in the New York Times, criminals sell copies of washed checks online in addition to stolen or counterfeit master keys – aka arrow keys, that open Postal Service collection boxes.  There have even been cases where letter carriers are robbed at gunpoint for these keys.  There was a local case that you can read about it here. 

Also, postal employees have been accused of stealing the checks themselves at sorting and distribution centers. They then recruit others to loot collection boxes or act as check cashers. It’s quite an elaborate scheme.

So, a word to the wise, if you’re still writing out paper checks, stop and pay your bills


  1. Kevin Conroy July 27, 2023 at 6:36 am - Reply

    Here’s some advice. Don’t put mail in ANY mailbox after the final pick-up time. The time is posted on the box. Mail deposited after the final pick-up could possibly stolen by these thieves. They operate at night, usually in early morning hours.

  2. Kevin Conroy July 27, 2023 at 9:28 am - Reply

    The thefts from blue collection boxes happen at night.
    Don’t mail anything after the final collection time. The time is posted on the box.

  3. Kevin Conroy July 27, 2023 at 9:29 am - Reply

    Sorry about repeating myself!

  4. Maureen July 27, 2023 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    I read that this has been happening in a number of communities including Milton, Dorchester Wellesley and I’m sure ma my others. Now I mail inside the post office but if some employees are involved, I guess that’s not safe either

  5. MWhite July 28, 2023 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Former postal employee here. If it IS a postal employee, the Postal Inspection Service will catch him or her. They have about a 98% conviction rate. Stealing mail, opening mail not addressed to you and keeping stolen mail are federal offenses.
    I doubt it is an employee because emplyees are under surveillance the entire time they are working .
    I once witnessed a letter carrier get arrested by Postal Inspectors. She wasn’t delivering free detergent samples to every house on her route. Someone complained. Postal Inspectors went undercover dressed up like homeless people to surveil her. THEY caught her in the act. She was arrested for theft and it ended her postal career. She was DONE .

  6. William Fitzmaurice July 29, 2023 at 8:07 am - Reply

    What theses misguided individuals need is a good dose of street justice. Unfortunately crime will continue to rise.
    The justice system is broken. The elected officials don’t care. Although this is a Federal Crime you don’t hear any out cry
    from Your Boston elected councilors.
    Really out of control. Oh, I know the answer more programs and jobs. Do You really think they want to work? No they want to steal our hard earned money.

  7. Tina July 29, 2023 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Walk the check into the post office. This is rampant all over the Country.

  8. mplo July 31, 2023 at 10:28 pm - Reply

    This is really scary stuff! Going inside the post office and handing whatever check has to be mailed out to someone who works behind the counter is a good way to protect oneself against this horrendous crime.

    Another way is to use black ink-gel pens, rather than ordinary ball point pens to write checks with, because the ink in ink-gel pens doesn’t wash off so easily.

    If a building of residence has an indoor mailroom with a box for outgoing mail to be dropped into and that only a mail carrier who takes the mail from your building arrives at a regular time each day , and the mailroom is kept locked, that increases security, as well.

    The idea of mailing a check at a postal mail box shortly prior to pick up time is a good idea, as well.

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