VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — At first, it was a one-off issue. Then, it was a coincidence. Now it appears to be a trend. A third case of check washing is tied to the same location the Thoroughgood Post Office just off Pleasure House Road in Virginia Beach. Officially it is known as Bayside Station.
Howard Davey mailed a check there in February to pay his water bill. He had seen 10 On Your Side’s two previous reports on check washing involving the same post office and the same outdoor collection box that sits out front.
“We said wow, that’s our post office,” Davey said.
A check washer steals a check, washes off the handwritten date, the check’s amount in both numbers and words, and most importantly, the name of the payee.
Davey’s $89 check to pay a water bill was intercepted and transformed into a $9,700 check.
That amount is strategic. It’s just under the $10,000 threshold that would trigger a mandatory notice to the Internal Revenue Service by the bank that cashed it. In this case, according to Davey, it was Bank of America.
“The bank should have called when they tried to cash this check to an individual of that amount of money, and verified that that was actually a true check,” Davey said.
We have reached out to Bank of America and will update this story with any response.
In these three cases, there are similarities not just in the amounts, but in the ways the numbers and words are formed. We notified Postal Inspector Michael Romano again, as we did with the first two cases. Again, he maintained that the collection box is not an issue.
“The investigation remains active and ongoing. The box remains secure. It is not uncommon in these investigations to receive delayed reports of mail theft based upon the amount of time it takes for consumers to review their monthly financial statements,” Romano wrote in a Friday morning email.
Davey says the location on a dead-end street makes it vulnerable.
“It’s awful dark back there, and there’s not really good lighting. When you look at the post office, you don’t see any security cameras that are noticeable.”
Davey says he will no longer send checks through the mail and instead will handle those payments electronically.
The USPS advises consumers to review their financial transactions routinely and if they have sent a check that has not cleared or was cashed in a different amount than issued, they should notify their bank and file a report with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 or via the website.