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The USPS mailbox scam: A sticky crime reportedly makes a comeback

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By: Theo Thimou, Clark.com

We’ve told you before about the bogus package delivery scam and the threat that package thieves pose to your shipped goods.

Now an oldie but baddie scam involving outgoing mail dropped in mailboxes is reportedly making a comeback!

Read more: Fake package notification could be dangerous malware

Crooks using honey to get the money?

The New York Post says scam artists are coating the inside of USPS mailboxes with a “thick honey-like substance” in a low-tech hack designed to steal your letters and bills.

The sticky substance basically acts like flypaper; it catches letters that people drop down the chute to be mailed. Crooks can then later retrieve whatever envelopes get stuck and rifle through the contents to find checks and cash.

The cash is just a gimme for the bad guys, while checks make the crooks work a little harder.

Checks have to be “washed” by criminals, a special process that removes pen ink from the face of a check. That leaves the crooks free to change the recipient’s name on the check — or add an extra zero or two to the dollar amount — and then cash it themselves.

The scam seems to be localized to New Jersey at this point. The USPS has not confirmed the veracity of this latest report in The New York Post. But local postal inspectors did confirm this sticky mailbox was going on in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in 2012 and again in 2014 when it happened in Mount Vernon, NY.

Just to play devil’s advocate, we did a search of Snopes.com — an authoritative site useful for separating urban legends from confirmed news about scams and ripoffs — and did not find any info about the mailbox glue scam in their archives.

We’ve followed up with an email to the Snopes team asking about the veracity of this latest scam report. We’ll update this story when we get a response.

Here are some ways to protect yourself

Assuming we are seeing the legitimate resurgence of a scam that’s been dormant for three years, here are some step you can take to protect yourself:

  • Don’t send cash in the mail.
  • Use your bank’s bill pay to send paper checks directly to the recipient.
  • Only mail letters directly at the post office.
  • Use mailboxes that have slots, not doors. The slots help limit unauthorized access to the contents of the mailbox.
  • Make friends with your mail carrier and hand them your outgoing mail directly.
  • If you must drop your mail in a mailbox, double-check to make sure it isn’t getting stuck on the way down. If it is, report it immediately to the USPS.

Read more: This is why UPS drivers never turn left

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