Woman says she’s out more than $100K after sophisticated scheme to steal mail from her business

·4 min read

Channel 2 Action News has confirmed that local, state and federal authorities are investigating numerous reports of mail thieves targeting businesses across metro Atlanta.

Now, one of those victims is coming forward, claiming that she and her partners are now out more than $100,000.

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The victim, who asked us not to identify her or the name of her business because of the ongoing investigation, told Channel 2′s Michael Seiden that her company rents space at an office park on Peachtree Dunwoody Road in Sandy Springs, where mail is delivered to a secured and locked mailbox that requires a key to open.

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“We normally receive mail and checks on a daily basis,” said the business owner. “Then in mid-July, we stopped receiving mail.”

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She says she became concerned and reached out to her local post office on Hightower Trail, but instead of getting answers, she claims she was given numerous excuses.

“They told me, ‘Oh, you have a new mail carrier and your suite number is incorrect,’” she said. “We’ve had the same mailing address for 28 years. They also told us that there was a fraud investigation and they were keeping our mail. We also learned that there were other businesses in our complex that were having issues.”

Frustrated and suspicious, this business owner says she launched her own investigation and quickly discovered that thieves had been stealing their mail, which contained client checks.

“So far, we know of over $100,000 that’s been stolen in the mail before it reached our mailbox,” she said.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Channel 2 Action News has been reporting on numerous mail theft incidents, but unlike the previous ones, showing how thieves altered the names and amounts written on the stolen checks, these crooks appear to be part of a more sophisticated scheme.

This victim explained the thieves logged onto the Secretary of State’s website, changed the name of the company’s registered agent and used the documents to open up a business account a JP Morgan Chase bank.

Seiden reached out to Chase and a spokesperson told us that “law enforcement is engaged and we are providing our assistance.”

“I’m not sure how someone was able to easily go online and change our annual registration with the state,” she added.

We brought her question to the SOS office and spokesperson emailed us the following statement:

When any document is filed in the corporations system, all email addresses associated with that entity receive an email notification of the filing and an attachment of the document that has been filed. as a safeguard, no new filer can change the primary email address that will receive notification without following a specific process that includes notice to the previous primary email address. This protocol is in line with the measures taken by many industry leaders and tech companies to mitigate unauthorized access while still ensuring that authorized filers are able to seamlessly file necessary corporate documents. in this instance, when the registered agent was changed, the primary email address also received a notification of the change. these procedures are in place to ensure that corporations are aware of any changes to their registration status and to mitigate instances of fraud or impersonation. Corporate filers should also be aware that they can add multiple secondary emails to receive these notices and monitor the integrity of their corporate filings, and we encourage all Georgia businesses to check their information on record with our office to ensure it is accurate and up to date. The secretary of state’s investigation’s division looks forward to cooperating in the ongoing investigation to help law enforcement catch and prosecute any wrongdoers.”

This victim admits that she and her partners missed that email, but she still believes the state should be doing more to warn businesses.

“With all the security measures that can be put in place now, such as two-factor authentication or calling or texting the cellphone on file to confirm that the change is being made,” she said. “A generic email I do not think is sufficient.”

Seiden also reached out to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, but a spokesperson told us there are no new updates on this investigation.

“Every day, the U.S. Postal Service efficiently and safely delivers millions of checks, money order, credit cards and merchandise,” the spokesperson said. “Postal Inspectors work to protect the mail and any concerns from our customers are taken seriously. If a customer does not receive a check or other valuable mail that they are expecting, please contact the issuing agency or sender. Anyone that believes their mail has been stolen, report it by calling us at 877-876-2455.”