Thieves take checks from mailbox and go on spending spree

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The following news release was sent by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office:

PHOENIX - On January 27, 2009, Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a reported check fraud case in the 1800 block of Moonstone Lane, Prescott. Deputies contacted the reporting party who explained that her parents had ordered checks in late December and expected them to arrive during the first few days of January. Her parents found out this week that the checks had been stolen from their mailbox and used at various locations in Phoenix and Prescott.

At least four checks were returned to the victims and all had been forged with the victim's signature. The total loss to their account was nearly $2000.00 dollars and not all of the forged checks have been located. Two of the checks were used in Phoenix, a third check was used at a pizza restaurant in Prescott Valley, and the fourth check had been forged for purchases at a Prescott area pet store. The reporting party, who is a caretaker for her parents, immediately notified the bank's fraud department to flag the account and called the Sheriff's Office. YCSO is attempting to identify suspects based on the use of these checks at known business locations.

This incident is a reminder that persons expecting bank cards or checks in the mail should monitor mail delivery and secure it as soon as possible. As has been reported in the recent past, thieves randomly scour mail boxes for these personal banking instruments, with intent to use them before the victim realizes the property has been stolen. If you have the ability to check your accounts online, this is an excellent way to catch potential fraud in progress. As in this case, those folks with elderly or non- ambulatory relatives can assist by monitoring mail and bank records when banking related deliveries are expected. Also consider using a post office box to receive mail.

Mail theft should also be reported to the United States Postal Inspections Service, which can be done online at .

To view a USPIS information sheet with tips to protect your mail .