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'Check-washing' scam hits Wellington businesses

Posted at 7:00 PM, Nov 15, 2022

WELLINGTON, Fla. — A bank of mailboxes at the Wellington Plaza was targeted by a check-washing thief who appears to be cashing in.  

“Half a million dollars,” said Wellington Plaza’s Property Manager Mary O’Neal.  

She said a postal service worker told her the crooks had a skeleton, or pass key to the mailboxes.  

“A key,” O’Neal demonstrated for Contact 5, “Opens the entire bank of (about 50) boxes. Each box belongs to a tenant at the plaza. So, what’s happening is the perpetrator is coming, they have a key to this, they open the entire box, and they steal the checks.”  

According to police, the checks were then “washed,” meaning the thieves changed the name of the recipient and dollar amounts, and then were cashed.  

Crooks hit a cybersecurity business’ mailbox at Wellington Plaza.  

According to a Juno Beach police report, a check to the business from the Town of Juno Beach was stolen in late September.  

O’Neal said thieves hit another business last week.  

“Our plan is to install a camera system, which we’re in the process of doing,” said O’Neal, who is telling her tenants, if they’re sending checks in the mail, go to the mall across the street, and drop off their checks at the post office’s indoor kiosk.  

The security measure comes after five Wellington businesses in the plaza became the latest victims of check washing this year.  

In February, Delray Beach police said home mailboxes were targeted by thieves.  

In April, Boca Raton police said check washers stole checks from mail left in US Postal Service collection boxes.  

St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputies said check washers hit five neighborhoods across the county in April and May of this year.  

In Wellington, Mary O’Neal asked the postal workers to get a new skeleton key for the mailboxes at the Wellington Plaza.  

“It’s the only solution,” she said.  

We contacted the US Postal Service Regional Headquarters to see if it would change the skeleton key for the mailboxes at the Wellington Plaza, but our calls and emails have not been returned.  

The law enforcement arm of the Postal Service confirms to Contact 5 it has launched a criminal investigation into the thefts and check washing.  

Right now, no arrests have been made.  

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