Denver woman says thieves ‘washed’ her check, nearly stole $5,000


DENVER — A woman from the Wash Park neighborhood of Denver has a warning for others after she says thieves took nearly $5,000 from her bank account.

The thieves used a tactic you may or may not have heard of: check the washing. It happens when a solvent is used to remove the ink from a check and it is rewritten.

Kathleen Bailey said she fell victim to the plan last week.

“I happened to stop to pick up a small item at the hardware store and they told me my card had been declined,” she said.

Right after that, Bailey said she went to her Chase Bank branch, where she was told that someone was trying to cash a check from her account for $5,000.

“They asked me, ‘Did you write a check for $5,000?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t even have $5,000 in my account,’ the woman recalled.

Fortunately, Bailey’s bank marked the withdrawal as suspicious, which prevented any loss of funds. Chase Bank gave Bailey a copy of the check and her fears were confirmed – someone had “washed” and rewritten her check.

The check was originally drafted to pay a water bill of less than $100.

“I had to change my entire bank account, and that’s very difficult for some people,” Bailey said. “Transferring everything to a new checking account was a mess.”

Denver woman says thieves ‘washed’ her check and stole nearly $5,000

In the past year, banking experts have reported an increase in the age-old technique of laundering checks. Some experts cite the end of stimulus controls in the pandemic era as a catalyst for thieves to commit mail theft, which is easier to achieve. Others cite the proliferation of modern anti-fraud technology, prompting people to turn around to check on washing.

“When I went to report the incident to the Denver Police Department, they said it’s a huge problem and every day they get two or three of these complaints and this was just in District Three,” Bailey said. “I’m never going to [United States Postal Service] blue box again, never. And if there’s anything, I’ll take it to the post office and send a check or a letter.”

USPS has these tips to protect your mail from check laundering.

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The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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