Identity theft

Know a victim of identity theft? You're talkin' to one!

How would you feel if someone stole from you and infringed on your personal life....violated, angry, out for revenge? I am all three. Yes, I was a victim of identify theft!

Saturday morning I wrote check #2096 to the Madonna School here in Omaha for $20.00, a remembrance for a friend who had died earlier this week. I put it in my mailbox, put the little red flag up at about 1:00 for pickup. I had also put in a birthday card and money for my niece and a gift for a friend's new baby in Kentucky.

We needed some things at the store, so hopped into the car, 20 minutes for fruit, milk and bread doesn't take very long.

As we drove up to our home, I noticed that the mailbox was open and empty but the flag was still up. Strange, my mailman never comes this early and is very good about closing the box door and putting the flag down. I thought "I wonder if somebody took our mail....naw, couldn't happen"....I was wrong.

Sunday morning I decided to check my bank account online....whoa! what was this, a check for $625.00 had been cashed, and the check number was the same as the $20.00 check to Madonna School. All that the online description said was "ONUS CHECK WITHDRAWAL 2096". I called the 24 hour banker but all she could tell me was that a check had been cashed....and that I would be able to get more information on Monday.

Monday 8 am I was at the bank door and was taken to a personal banker. I told her that I did not write a check to anyone for $625.00 and needed to know who the check was made out to. But I was told I would have to wait until Tuesday when the checks arrive from the satellite bank. In the meantime, I had called the post office in regard to the baby gift which had a tracking number. They had not received, it was not picked up by the mail carrier....I made a report to the Postal Inspector General...don't know what that office can do, but it least I felt I was doing something.

Tuesday morning I went online and looked at my checking account....the $625.00 cash withdrawal was gone! First I thought "could I have made some dumb mistake and caused a big fuss over nothing"...

I went back to the bank and talked to the personal banker....she had tried to call me earlier. She said that the check had been altered by some sort of material that dissolves the ball point pen ink. The check was made out to (xxxx since she has now been released from prison, I will not give her name) and also a driver's license number. On the check she wrote what she had been "paid" for...two weeks of baby sitting husband and I are both in our 70's, no babysitting needed in this household.

This does not necessarily mean that the name and license belongs to the thief since I doubt if they were dumb enough to use their own. (wrong again! This was her real name...the police officer told me that they don't think they will be caught!) But... the bank had a THUMBPRINT and also a surveillance video of the woman. The check was date and time stamped by the bank at 15:55 - it took them less than 3 hours to wash the check, forge it,and drive to a bank on the other side of town to be cashed. They probably hit a few more mailboxes on the way.

As for my baby gift, a really cute pair of Winnie the Pooh pajamas, birthday card and several other pieces of mail...they are gone, never to be seen again.

Remember what I said about violation, anger and revenge...when this group/person is caught I will be first in line to prosecute. My life has been violated and I don't like it!!! I was very lucky that my bank cancelled the $625.00 charge on my account. It wouldn't have thrown me into bankruptcy or caused bad credit but it did cause some sleepless nights.

I don't feel safe writing checks anymore....and have learned NEVER to put the flag up on my mailbox when I put something in it. Its like a "come and get it" to anyone who makes a habit of helping themselves to another person's mail.

I often wonder about the other people who had their out-going mail stolen.  It would be quite a nasty surprise to receive a letter from your bank,  credit card or other lending agency saying that your monthly house payment, credit card bill, car insurance, etc. payment had not been received....and inaddition to that, you will be charged a late fee for non payment.

(note) Ms Thief and her partner were caught several days later with a backseat full of opened mail)  They were tried and sentenced to 4 years in prison... not nearly enough to make up for the stress and sleepless nights she caused us. Unfortunately the maximum penalty is up to three years in prison for mail theft and up to two years in prison for theft. And, I think she returned my Winnie the Pooh pajamas to the store for a full refund! grrrrrrrrrrrrrr )