By Chris Tye

CHICAGO (CBS) — Somewhere between dropping checks in the mail and them getting in the hands of the people they are written to, they are disappearing — more than $100,000 worth.

It’s a story CBS 2 broke earlier this month, and now, as the United States Postal Service acknowledges its investigation is underway, CBS 2 is learning the problem is getting worse.

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“To date we’re over $35,000 in checks that never made it to us,” Ken Pecho with the Combined Sales Company in Chicago said nearly three weeks ago.

 

Friday he said it was up to 18 checks an dmore than $41,000.

Checks destined for Pecho’s packaging company and several of his neighboring businesses were intercepted and signed over to strangers.

Scammers signed them over, endorsing and cashing the checks under the names Diana, Betty, Kevin, Tamala and Vise.

“It’s really anger now,” he said.

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It’s anger at the scammers, the banks that allow it and the 60632 post office that claims to be investigating. Now, someone is cashing in is flipping the script, editing out Ken’s company name as the payee and inserting the name and actual address of someone in the suburbs.

“There’s an actual place in Markham, I don’t know if it’s the actual person or if the person stole his information,” Pecho said. 

So, CBS 2’s Chris Tye went to Markham to find out.

The person whose name was edited onto that check did live at the address. He’s 19, but no family wanted to talk on camera or off about whether he was a scammer or had his identity stolen to complete the scam.

“More and more checks are disappearing,” Pecho said. “I’d love to see people get a perp walk out of the branch, but I’m more concerned that this stop.”

CBS 2 has repeatedly asked the post office how many cases like this it is seeing and where they think the theft is occurring. They refuse to offer up any details on frequency, claiming its an open investigation.

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Pecho said the post office had been helpful at the start. He thinks now they are just “overwhelmed.”