PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — A Paulding County business says it has been the victim of check fraud, but the owners are having a hard time convincing one bank that identity thieves are the ones who opened an account in their name.
Business owners told Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray that for three months, they got deposit tickets and bank statements in the mail for a checking account opened by thieves and funded by money stolen from them.
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Mark Verrone has owned paper products distributor Metro Bag for 27 years, but has never worried about checks being stolen out of the mail.
“It caught us off guard, to be honest with you,” Verrone said.
Last Fall, they say thieves stole both outgoing and incoming mail. Metro Bag checks were stolen and washed. Checks from customers to the company were also stolen.
“It’s tens of thousands of dollars of our money that’s stolen and it’s our money. It’s how we operate our business, and it becomes a struggle to pay bills if we don’t have that money,” Verrone explained.
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Metro Bag’s bank and several other banks quickly caught and fixed thousands of dollars in fraud, but now Verrone gets a statement from Navy Federal Credit Union.
Multiple vendor checks were stolen and used to open an account at the bank, allowing fraudsters to steal tens of thousands of dollars.
“Each time we get those statements, we call and ask what is going on. They say, ‘We can’t tell you anything, you are not an account holder. We can’t help you,’” he said.
In a Channel 2 Action News investigation in November, Gray reported that a 2020 U.S. Postal Service policy change prevents postal police from patrolling carrier routes, limiting them to post offices.
“We’re confined to postal facilities in the middle of a mail theft epidemic,” said Frank Albergo with the Postal Police Officers Association. “Since then, mail theft has exploded.”
Earlier this week, a national arbiter issued a ruling that would require the postal service to rescind their ruling.
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Multiple banks have seen the fraud that Verrone reported and quickly refunded the money when contacted by police.
Gray reached out to Navy Federal Credit Union, but has not received a response.
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