MADISON, Ala. – With debit cards and online banking, writing a check to pay a bill isn’t all that common anymore.
Recently, a Madison couple was scammed out of nearly $5,000 and they want others to be aware of an old scam that seems to be making a comeback.
It’s a method called check washing and its been around for decades. The couple hit by it had never even heard of it and now they want others to be aware.
David Williams and his wife Kelly were shocked to get a call from their bank.
“Said that there was somebody trying to cash a check,” said David Williams. “So they asked her how much was the check and she said it was $1,900 and she said no I haven’t written a check to that person,” said David Williams.
The teller caught on to the fact that something was wrong, but not before the scammer had already cashed a different check from the Williams.
“For $1,580 and my wife said no, I didn’t write that one either,” said Williams.
They started scrambling to figure out how the scammers got the check.
“Athens Utilities said we hadn’t paid our bill,” said scam victim, David Williams. “My wife remembered that she had put that check and a check for our security company into our mailbox.”
Then it clicked, someone took the checks out of their mailbox and erased information to rewrite them. Police call it check washing.
“I immediately went on the internet and started looking to see how it was done because neither one of us had heard anything. We asked our family and asked friends and neighbors, none of them had heard anything about it either,” said Williams.
Now Williams wants other people to know how to avoid getting scammed like he did.
“Using security checks that usually have like some sort of symbol or something that’s on the check. The other one was trying to use a gel pen,” said Williams.
The Williams have filed police reports with both Madison and Huntsville police. He says he won’t fall victim again.
“Now we are going to take our checks and we are going to go drop them off at the post office,” said Williams.
Thankfully the family is not out-of-pocket while waiting to find out who took their money.
“Luckily we bank with BBVA. Their investigator stood behind it they put our money back in and said hey we will work with police we’ll go see what we can do about this,” said Williams.
Both police departments say this is still under investigation and charges have not been filed. Police do want to encourage anyone else that this happens to, to file a report immediately.