New Orleans neighbors say their checks were stolen from post office drop boxes, edited and cashed

Lynda Mora and Larry James both had checks stolen, edited and cashed at two different post office drop boxes. They say they aren’t alone.
Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 10:40 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Taking mail and dropping it off at a drop box outside the post office is so routine of an act, we often don’t think twice about it.

Lynda Mora certainly didn’t when she went to the Lakeview Post Office.

“Between [the drop box] and wherever it goes from there, somebody picked up a bunch of checks,” she said.

She got the notification from her bank: $5,000 had been withdrawn from her account, using the check she had written out for $700. The date and name on the check had also been edited.

“This check came through, and I knew I hadn’t written the check to this person,” she said. “I had no idea who it is.”

The same thing happened to Larry James.

James is the Chief of Behavioral Medicine at Tripler Army Medical Center, and also operates a clinic in Dayton, Ohio. He has four part-time employees, and he mailed them their checks from the drop box at Carrollton Post Office before the holidays.

“I decided to sit down and go through my business checking account, and I noticed a significant drop in funds in my account,” James said.

Someone had stolen the checks, edited and cashed one of them.

“This person who stole these checks wrote herself a check for 8,600 dollars,” James said.

Whoever stole and edited the checks knew what they were doing.

“This person clearly used a high end laser scanner to scan my check as a PDF file and then download it on their laptop and edit it with a PDF writer,” he said.

U.S. Postal Inspector Tony Robinson said the crime isn’t unheard of, but couldn’t confirm or deny that there has been a recent uptick in New Orleans.

He said people using drop boxes should make sure they don’t drop their mail after pick up but before the next day, that mail sitting overnight is inviting thieves.

“Another option is delivering it inside of the post office, either through the mail chute that goes into the building, or just handing it to a postal employee,” Robinson said.

He said anyone with similar experiences should report them to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. They can only act when they’ve received a complaint.

“We use that data-driven metric to be able to find where trouble spots are so we can plan our next course of action,” Robinson said.

Both Mora and James submitted complaints and are waiting to hear back.

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