Next time you're about to write a personal check to tip someone, take caution. It could cost you a lot more than you ever intended.
"I was really disappointed that it happened to me," said Maureen Webster, a fraud victim.
Webster still can't believe an identity thief stole thousands of dollars from her. The most frustrating part? It was her newspaper delivery guy.
"I never thought twice about tipping a newspaper delivery person with a personal check," Webster said. "He decided to make some additional checks that looked like mine and he decided to welcome himself to all of the money in my bank account."
But the story didn't end with fraudulent checks.
"They filed fraudulent tax returns for 2012, they filed fraudulent state income tax returns for 2012, they got into my Fidelity account and tried to take out $10-thousand dollars," she said.
How did the delivery guy access all this information?
"It amazes me that somehow all this information is in cyber space, with just a name and address he was able to find out all the information," she said.
Webster was not alone. Investigators said a ring of newspaper delivery guys stole millions of dollars from more than 400 victims.
"Add zeros where they shouldn't be added, cash checks on their accounts and then put in change of address of the people - getting the mail delivered to his house, get bank statements and enter into their bank accounts and engage in account takeovers," said U.S. Postal Inspector Ryan Noonan.
After a few months, the suspect was arrested.
"He wasn't hard to find," Webster said. "He was smart enough to figure out how to write checks out of peoples' accounts but he wasn't smart enough to not write his name and address on his, he basically led them right to him."
Woman falls victim to newspaper delivery fraud ring