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Checks stolen from USPS mailboxes

After another break-in at a USPS mailbox, a business owner in Luzerne County is warning her neighbors to take it seriously.

HANOVER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Thieves are still targeting USPS mailboxes, looking for your money.

Newswatch 16's Elizabeth Worthington spoke with a woman who says it happened to her.

Brenda Bartlett did something she used to do all the time. She dropped off a few bills in the USPS collection box located right next door to her business in Luzerne County.

Now, she says she'll never do that again. 

Bartlett owns Village Pet Supplies in Hanover Township and Luzerne. A few weeks after she thought she paid three of her bills, she got a panicked phone call from her bank about a huge overdraft in her account.

The $6,000 she dropped in the mail had been turned into $33,000. 

"They made it into new names for the payee, changed the amounts, and left my signature intact, so it all looked legitimate. They used mobile capture and had it into their bank and through my bank before anybody knew anything was wrong," explained Bartlett.

Her bank was able to refund her, but the thieves still got away with the money and the crime. 

"All crazy broke loose. It took days and days of police reports and affidavits and the fraud department at the bank investigating," said Bartlett. "It was just a nightmare, and now it just keeps happening. I just keep seeing more and more news stories. I personally, for the rest of my life, will be mailing everything directly inside the post office lobby because I do not ever want to go through that again. It was awful."

The postal inspector says that's a good option to keep your money in the right hands, but if you do use the collection boxes, never drop off checks after the final collection time listed. Otherwise, they'll be left inside overnight, which is when the thieves tend to strike.

The inspector also recommends you monitor your accounts closely whenever you mail money. The sooner you report suspicious activity, the better chance you have of getting your money back. 

Bartlett says police tell her this is an old crime that's making a comeback.

It's happening all over the state and country, including two weeks ago in Scranton and last week in White Haven. The White Haven Police Department posted on social media that if you mailed money after 3 p.m. on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, in front of the White Haven Market, or in front of the post office, you are likely a target of fraud.

Bartlett is sharing her experience in the hopes that others take these warnings seriously.

If you notice anything unusual, report it immediately to your bank and the United States Postal Inspection Service. 

Click here to file that report online with the United States Postal Inspection Service.

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