MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — The Madison Police Department (MPD) is investigating “several” cases of mail theft and fraud, many of which are related to stolen or fraudulent checks.

Capt. Lamar Anderson, a spokesperson for Madison Police, said MPD believes “checks are stolen during the mailing process and not from the mail drop-off locations”. Anderson expanded on that, saying MPD believes the theft could occur during the transit process, or at transfer facilities.

Madison Police said it is working with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) to investigate, in hopes of identifying the source.

News 19 reached out to MPD for details, after hearing from one Madison resident, Michael Darnell, who said he was recently the victim of mail fraud.

Darnell told News 19 he “mailed a check on Friday, by Monday three bad checks had been written”. Not only was his check used to make fraudulent checks, his original check “never made it where it was going.”

When Darnell reached out to his bank to report the fraud, he was made aware that unfortunately, his situation isn’t unique. “I found out from the bank that this is a weekly occurrence” he said.

“I happened to meet with another bank, different bank entirely and they said ‘yeah, we see the same thing'” he said.

Darnell also shared his experience with a Facebook group for people who live in Madison. Quickly, the post garnered more than 75 comments. Most of the commenters said they experienced something very similar in recent weeks and months.

“From what I gather, it’s clearly a widespread issue, a number of people have come forward” Darnell said.

Darnell was able to get things sorted out through his bank but said he’d like law enforcement to catch whoever is responsible for the fraud. He said he’s grateful only his business information was leaked, and he was able to get his money back, not everyone who has been through the situation has been as lucky.

“I’ve heard stories of people’s aging parents and grandparents having a great deal of money stolen from them so it’s a very dangerous and onerous thing for most people,” he said. “Fortunately for us, it was caught, and it wasn’t an extreme amount of money, but for other people it’s a very dangerous thing for some of the victims of this crime.”

Darnell said he has reported the fraud to MPD.

Again, MPD told News 19 they are investigating, but do not believe the thieves are breaking into collection boxes locally. MPD believes the thieves are collecting mail sometime during the transit process, indicating it could be an inside job.

News 19 also reached out to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) for details.

An Assistant Special Agent In Charge, David Wisley, told News 19: “As a matter of standard protocol, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (USPS OIG) does not confirm or refute information related to possible ongoing USPS OIG investigations, except in matters where details of the investigation become a matter of public record.”

Another USPIS spokesperson told News 19 they are investigating reports of USPS collection box break-ins around the country.

That spokesperson said Postal Inspectors rely on reports by customers to identify situations of stolen mail. If you believe you are a victim of mail theft, USPIS advises that you report it to local law enforcement and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The USPIS has a hotline available: 877-876-2455. You can also report fraud by visiting their website.

The United States Postal Inspection Service said there are ways you can protect your mail.

One safety measure is to not drop off mail in an outdoor collection box after the last collection time of the day. The USPIS says mail left sitting overnight can be a target to thieves.

You can learn more about mail fraud prevention by clicking here.