DeKalb County

Man out thousands of dollars after crooks change checks made out to large companies

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — An obvious mistake by two major banks left a DeKalb County man facing steep financial consequences.

Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray has covered several stories on check washing, where the criminal changes out the name on a check.

In this case, they didn’t even bother.

“On the back of the check, they signed it. They obviously didn’t sign it Georgia Power,” victim George Nikas said to Gray, showing him the check.

“They didn’t even change the name?” Gray asked Nikas.

“No, it’s still made out to the corporation,” Nikas said.

In an age of complicated high-tech crime, this was as basic as it gets. But neither Chase nor Bank of America caught it.

“Someone had stolen the checks out of the mail, signed them, deposited them, and got the money,” Nikas said.

He told Gray that he mailed checks for his bills from the Avondale Post Office

“I got an alert that I was overdrawn at the bank and I wondered how could this be,” Nikas said.


Those checks -- stolen from the mail -- all had an extra digit written in. Hundreds of dollars became thousands.

“You can see here, $225 dollars, they put a zero with a different type of handwriting even,” Nikas said, showing Gray the check.

But the criminals did not even change the names or the written dollar amounts.

The checks from his Chase account were made out to Georgia Power, Amex, and Comcast.

But a criminal just signed the back and cashed and deposited $9,000 worth of those checks at Bank of America -- no questions asked.

“Did Georgia Power walk into the bank and say, “Hi, I’m Georgia Power? No,” Nikas said.

Over the past several months, Channel 2 Action News has done a series of stories on both check fraud and postal theft, often tied together.

The U.S. Treasury Department finding check fraud has increased by 84% just in one year.

“You thought this would be a simple fix?” Gray asked Nikas.

“I thought it would be handled that day,” Nikas said.

Instead, Nkas has been battling to get his money back for nearly 7 months.

Chase sent him a letter saying that in 90 days if they don’t recover the money from Bank of America, “We will close your claim and your funds will not be recovered.”

“I don’t sleep a whole lot if I start thinking about this. Like, last night, I may have had three hours sleep,” Nikas said.

Gray attempted to contact Chase on Friday. They have not responded so far.

Nikas said he has gotten some of his money back, but as of right now, he’s still out more than 5,000.