Arnaldo Alvarez lives a quiet life in a modest apartment in Miami. He’s on a fixed income and frequently checks his bank account.
“I am very careful with how I spend the money because I don’t have a lot of money to spend,” Alvarez said.
In November, during a routine call to his bank, he learned his account was overdrawn. He says he went to the nearest Regions Bank branch, where a representative showed him a suspicious check.
“I noticed that it wasn’t mine, that somebody did something to that [check],” he said. “I don’t know how they did it, but they rewrite [sic] the check.”
Someone had taken a $100 check Alvarez had mailed to his children in Kendall and changed it to read $400, draining his bank account right before the holiday.
“In Christmas, I have $2 in my checking account,” he said. “I have to call my brother because I didn’t have any money to eat. That was tough on me.”
Alvarez says the bank told him they’d return his money, but when weeks passed and he was still waiting, he turned to NBC 6 Responds for help. Our team got right to work.
“The same day, the manager from the branch called me and apologized for the situation,” he said.
In a statement, Regions Bank told us they “…refunded Mr. Alvarez in full, including reimbursing him for any fees he may have incurred as a result of the altered check.” The statement goes on to say, “We appreciate Mr. Alvarez’s patience while this matter was investigated, and we value his business.”
Alvarez, meanwhile, was thankful to get back $471. He plans to be more careful the next time he mails a check – and with good reason.
According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, they saw what they call an “unusual spike” in these types of crimes last year, investigating 482 mail theft complaints in South Florida.
Authorities recommend using the letter slots inside your post office or handing sensitive mail directly to a letter carrier.
You should also check a collection box for sticky residue or tape before you drop in your mail.
If you’ve been a victim of mail theft, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by clicking here: https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/fraudschemes/mailtheft/ReportMailTheft.aspx
You can also file a complaint over the phone, by calling: 1-800-ASK-USPS.