Stolen checks reported in East Alabama electronically endorsed; Customers forced to close accounts

WEDOWEE – Some businesses and customers in eastern Alabama are dealing with the consequences after they say several checks sent through the United States Postal Service (USPS) were stolen and cashed by scammers.

Terry Wiley, Jr., the general manager of Wedowee Building Supply in Randolph County, said the company affected about five customers, although he said other businesses in the area are also reporting stolen checks. Wiley said Wedowee Building Supply worked with the Post to find out what happened.

The checks were reported stolen in October and November. Customers wrote their checks and mailed them from their mailboxes, not drop boxes, at the post office. Customers then found that their invoices had not been marked as paid. Wiley said someone likely intercepted the checks before they got to the stores and cashed them by someone using a mobile deposit system and a forged signature.

“She [the customers] said the bank shows the check has already cleared and you got your money,” Wiley explained. “Well, we never got the checks, so that’s where we started having them call their banks.”

Customers called their banks and received copies of cashed checks showing the forged endorsements.

“I think there were three or four different names that the checks were made out to,” Wiley added. “But it was all electronic notes.”

Wedowee Building Supply has canceled late payment charges. However, customers are now concerned with protecting their bank accounts.

“I would tell them if they can come in and make a payment, that’s the best way,” Wiley said. “When you see the hassle customers have to go through to change their accounts and do it all over again, because now that these checks have been compromised, these people have their routing address, they have their account number. It’s annoying.”

Banking experts advise people whose accounts have been compromised to close the accounts and open a new one. Banks in Alabama and Georgia have agreed to recover money for customers affected by these latest thefts.

Scammers can take over entire bank accounts and make purchases from victims. With banking information, they can destroy a person’s credit. Experts recommend victims immediately report fraud to the bank, local law enforcement agencies, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at www.identitytheft.gov. Scammers can use the information to open fake accounts and charge fraudulent fees, so it’s important that compromised accounts are closed as soon as possible.

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