Blue mailboxes targeted by thieves

Don't Waste Your Money

Most of us are aware of the term "phishing scam," when someone sends a bogus email claiming to be our bank or credit card.

But there is another type of fishing scam now popping up, and this is the old fashioned type with a hook and string.

Landlord Patricia Moore says several times this year, her rent checks have not arrived, after they were mailed at the blue USPS mailboxes.

There are no cameras outside that post office.

"My tenants told me they had brought their rent mail to this particular mailbox and put it in, and that's all they knew," Moore said.

So Moore talked to the branch manager, who informed her someone may have been stealing envelopes out of the boxes.

"The manager did mention something called fishing, where people are using types of contraptions to get mail out of the mailbox after its been placed there."

Return of an old crime

A local Postal Inspector confirms to us an investigation is underway, and says this century old crime is making a comeback nationwide.

We're not going to explain exactly how it is done, but inspectors say thieves "go fishing" in mailboxes at night.

News reports from New York to San Francisco list similar attacks on mailboxes in many other cities.

It happens most often at the end of the month, when tenants put their rent in the mail, inspectors say.

Moore had one money order traced, and found that, sure enough, "with one tenant we did get the trace back," Moore said. "And the money order had been altered and cashed."

So she's urging her tenants not to mail checks in the evening, at blue mailboxes on city streets.

How to protect yourself

Your best bet is to mail checks through the mail slot inside the post office.

If you use an official blue mailbox, try not to put in a check if it's going to sit there all weekend or overnight. It's best to mail checks in the morning, for pickup later that day. And never put cash in the mail. Ever.

And by the way, don't try this yourself, even if just for fun. Tampering with US Mail is a federal crime.

That way you don't waste your money.
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