Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. is calling on members of Congress to pressure the U.S. Postal Service to focus its attention and manpower on ending the rash of mail theft in communities throughout the county.
Scarpino sent letters to Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, Rep. Nita Lowey and Rep. Elliot Engel this week after police in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, White Plains, Tarrytown, Harrison, Purchase, Bronxville, New Rochelle, North Castle and other communities have been investigating incidents in which curbside mailboxes were broken into either forcibly, by using a stolen key or were stolen outright.
"Thieves take checks or financial documents with personal identification which can be used for identity theft and financial fraud," Scarpino said. "In some cases, checks are 'washed,' meaning cleaned and erased of original information, and the 'Payable to' or payable amount or both are changed. They are then cashed or fraudulently deposited."
In his letter to Westchester’s Congressional members, Scarpino wrote:
“Our office has been working with postal inspectors and local law enforcement to catch these thieves. Unfortunately, the number of postal inspectors assigned to Westchester is woefully inadequate.”
“We need you to intervene immediately with the United States Postal Service to have it initiate a comprehensive program to aggressively address this problem. Our constituents deserve better. This is a serious problem that has victimized thousands of innocent people.”
The District Attorney’s Office will continue to work with local law enforcement to both protect our residents from this kind criminal activity and aggressively prosecute those involved.
In the meantime, Scarpino is providing tips to residents to help protect themselves:
- Do not place checks in mailboxes. Use online payment instead.
- Write checks with gel-style ink that cannot be erased or “washed” like ink from a standard ballpoint pen.
- Check your credit card and bank statements daily for any unusual activity.
- If you think you have been the victim of fraud, the Federal Trade Commission strongly suggests you set up a “Fraud Alert” with credit bureaus. Follow the FTC's instructions.
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