By Chris Tye

CHICAGO (CBS) — A South Side packaging company thought the end of the pandemic would mean the end of an expensive mail scam with crooks tearing into envelopes with checks and then cashing them to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Now the postal inspector is not offering updates to the scam that shows no signs of slowing down.

It has cost packaging company Combined Sales near Midway nearly $60,000 has they’ve seen checks just vanish.

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CBS 2’s Chris Tye first reported on this in on Feb. 8 when the lost checks totaled $35,000. By Feb. 26 it had reached more than $41,000.

Four months later Ken Pecho with the company said it has lost around $53,000.

Thieves tear into check filled envelopes at some point in transit between customer and vendor. They take checks, sign them over to scribble names like Diana, Betty, Kevin, Tomala and Vise, and then cash them.

And the USPS Inspector General’s office is offering no signal on where the investigation stands four months in.

“Absolutely nothing,” Pecho said.

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CBS 2 uncovered one thing that has happened. Last month The Inspector General’s office issued an audit into pandemic mail fraud theft. Between March of 2020 and February of this year they claim Chicago saw a total of 39 USPS fraud cases, which is up 35% over the year prior, and 44 total mail theft cases, which is a drop of 19% from the year prior.

Could it really be just 44 total postal theft cases over 12 pandemic months?

“That doesn’t seem possible,” Pecho said. “We have had more than that just in our business park.”

When CBS 2 asked the local post office about those numbers, they said to reach out to the the postal inspectors. We reached out to the local office, who in an email deferred us to national headquarters. When we called the number provided, the message said, “Welcome to Verizon Wireless. Your call cannot be completed as dialed.”

It’s a runaround Pecho knows well.

“It’s incredibly frustrating,” he said. “You think things have stopped or slowed down for a while then you have another incident.”

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There has been a lot of talk about bipartisan support in Congress to reform the USPS, but Pecho said they would not necessarily solve his problem. That is all about getting mail delivered on time, but he’s more concerned with it arriving at all and stopping the theft along the way.