PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The head of a linen distribution company called Contact 5 after losing about $40,000 in a check-washing scheme that started with checks that were stolen out of the mail.
"It makes me sick to my stomach," Greg Cope, the CEO of a linen distributor in Palm Beach Gardens, told Contact 5. "The big, the mother one, was Feb. 2 for $18,500."
Pope showed Contact 5 six checks that he said were all washed after his dad recently tried to mail them from his Juno Beach home.
"They were able to change, you know, the name to the amount that's on the check, and, you know, it just became a really big hassle," Cope said.
Cope said the thieves were able to steal about $40,000 grand from his family's company.
"It's a real kick in the stomach," Cope said. "You know, I mean, here it is, you work hard and we try and pay our vendors all on time, if not before, and we work hard for the money and, you know, my thing is, you expect to get product on time, you expect to get paid on time and it's really been challenging."
The family filed a report with Juno Beach police and got the money back through their bank.
Cope told Contact 5 they're now making some changes.
"I, personally, wouldn't put anything through — any high amount of checks — in the mail. I would totally suggest putting something through FedEx or UPS, having a signature," Cope said. "Just seems like the mail system's, you know, not cutting it anymore."
The same thing happened to Andre Weliky, who owns the 4-95 Boca Car Wash, late last year.
His case was one of 39 mail theft cases in Boca Raton in 2022, according to Boca Raton police.
"I didn't know if the next day I'd be completely cleared out, if my employees would get paid or my bills would get paid," Weliky said. "I was at risk of going out of business."
His company lost about $20,000. He believes, like Cope, that his bank account information was also compromised through the mail.
The U.S. Postal Service said if someone needs to mail a check, the safest way to do it is to physically walk it inside a post office.