Has Anyone Stole and Then Forged One of Your Checks?

My bank’s fraud department left me a message while speaking at a work-related Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) event about a year ago. I didn’t answer their call because I didn’t recognize the number, plus my talk was starting in a few minutes.

Checked on My Bank Account

Once my talk was through, I listened to the message and found out I needed to call my bank before 4:00 PM because it was urgent. Either I missed the part that it was from the fraud department, or they didn’t mention it, but I figured I better look into it.

I logged into my bank’s website and noticed a large check had been cashed for an amount I knew I hadn’t written. While grabbing my checkbook to see what the check was supposed to be, I viewed the digital image of the check on the bank’s website.

My checkbook said it was a payment for my water bill from March 2021. That was now changed to be to a person for ten times the original amount.

Looking at the check, you could see someone changed the date from March to April by making the three a four. Then put a person’s name where the water company’s name should have been.

You could see the last part of the water company’s name at the end of the line to whom the check was initially made. They also change the written amount in words and numbers.

After repeatedly listening to the bank’s phone number, I needed to call. I wrote it all down—many attempts later, I wrote the phone number down in pieces.

A note to others whenever I leave my phone number that is different from the one I’m using, I say it in three pieces and then repeat it slowly a second time. So people can get it the first or second time listening. In case they weren’t expecting to need to write the number down in the first place.

I then Googled the 800 number and found everything pointing out that it was my bank’s number. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting scammed further.

Called My Bank Back

So I called the bank and explained what I had figured out to the person that answered my call. They told me I needed to contact the fraud department, whom I thought was who I was talking to.

The bank person then transferred me to the fraud department. The fraud department then asked me a bunch of questions like the first person did to make sure I was who I was supposed to be.

So I asked them again how much the check-in question was for and the name on it. I felt more comfortable that it was my bank and not scammers since they could tell me what I saw from my online account.

Partway through the process, I decided they asked for too much information over the phone for me to set up a new checking account.

Once I got off the phone with them, I set up an appointment to go to the nearest branch the next day to set up the new checking account because they mentioned they would have to close/put my current one on hold. The bank did this so that no more money could be withdrawn from my existing account.

Headed to My Bank

I worked for a couple of hours the next day before leaving for the Metro near me to head out for my noon appointment at the bank. Once I got to the Metro, I found out the Blue line wasn’t running because the Arlington Cemetery station had been closed for repairs for a few weeks/months.

So that meant I had to take the long way on the Yellow Line to the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station and then catch an Orange or Silver line train to get to the Ballston – MU Metro station.

Of course, I missed the next connecting train by approximately a minute.

The DC Metro was not running as many trains due to some single-tracking that was going on.

The next train was supposed to be there in about 13 minutes. It was closer to 18 minutes.

So I finally got to the Ballston Metro station at noon when I was supposed to be at the bank then, which was still five or six blocks away. I attempted to call the person I was supposed to be meeting to open my new account while walking there, and they were away from their desk.

Finally, I got a hold of them and told them I was still on my way walking over because of Metro issues. I managed to only be about six or seven minutes late for my appointment.

Explained My Issues

Once there, I explained what had happened and that I needed to set up a new checking account. The person helping me told me that they could keep my account open. So any checks that were getting deposited, like my Federal Government and State government tax returns that I had sent out a few days before, using the current checking account number, or my paycheck that was due to be deposited in a few days.

So we worked through all the paperwork to set up a new checking account and a few other things. Then the bank person had to contact the fraud group to have them transfer all the money in my old checking account to my new account.

First, the person that set up my new account had to give the fraud department person a bunch of information to prove they worked for the bank. Then I had to answer a bunch of questions to which I had to move closer to the speakerphone to answer. Loads of fun to do during a pandemic and having to pull down my mask so the other person on the phone could hear me.

Once that was done, we had to see a teller and make the final transfer possible because both of my accounts were now open. Once that was completed, the bank person I was working with kept my old account open to receive the two tax refunds and a possible paycheck but closed it so that no money could go out in case the person who forged the check couldn’t do anything else.

The bank person had to call the fraud department back and tell them we had transferred the funds after, of course, both of us had to answer all the questions again over the phone.

Ordered New Checks

I had to order new checks, and luckily, I did not have any bills that needed to be paid for another few weeks, so I had time to get the new ones.

Once I was done, I thanked the person for their work since it took at least an hour, if not more, to complete the entire process if my memory served me correctly.

Grabbed Lunch To Go

I then headed to the Ballston Mall to stop at Hot Lola’s to get a spicy chicken sandwich for a late lunch once I made it home. They use a blend that is part Nashville Hot Chicken with Sichuan peppercorns. So the sandwiches have some spice, some heat, and flavor along with a bit of tingling on your tongue.

Long Train Ride Home

Again, it took about an hour and a half to get home with all the DC Metro train system issues.

The hot chicken sandwich was still warm and crispy even after all that time on the trains.

Talked with Neighbors

Later talking with neighbors about my issue, I found out they had heard of others losing mail at the nearby Post Office if you put your mail in the big dropoff box outside in the Post Office parking lot.

Since then, I have made an effort after walking to the Post Office to make sure and put any outgoing mail in the mailboxes inside the building.

Good Luck Everyene

So hopefully, this never happens to you if it has sorry to hear that.

Saw Another Grammy the Other Day in Person

During lunch the other day (May 10th, 2022), I wrote out a few bills that I needed to mail out so I wasn’t late paying them. Once that process was done, I walked to the elevator and went to the lobby of my new apartment building.

In the Lobby at New Apartment Building

Once there, I stopped at the concierge desk to find out where I needed to put outgoing mail. The person behind the desk walked with me to the mailroom to show me where I could put any mail that needed to be sent out. The mail could go under any of the signs in the mailroom that read “U. S. Mail.”

After doing that, I checked my mailbox, and there was still no mail. I was expecting to get new bills and the mail I had forwarded from my old place but still not much.

The other day I had gotten an envelope from the Post Office telling me how long they would forward the different types of mail. My father had initially planned to give me cash since I’m poor at getting to the bank to deposit checks. So in an envelope, he had a check for my Christmas and birthday money. Still, he never made it to my place on his trip back up north because of moving to a new apartment.

Leaving the Building for a Short Walk

On my way outside for a short walk, I headed by the leasing offices and the conference room you can schedule if you need it.

When I looked into the conference room, there was a group of four people bopping along to some music, which I couldn’t hear from outside the conference room. I took a double-take at the Grammy sitting in the middle of the conference room table as I looked in.

I kept going towards the front of the building and then circled back to make sure I didn’t see things. Sure enough, it was a Grammy.

I headed out the back of the building for a walk around our block since the weather was nice.

On my return, of course, I had to go by the conference room to see if they had the door open and I could ask about the Grammy, but it was still closed, so I kept ton walking and then went back up in the elevator to my apartment.

Nice to have someone who won a Grammy living or visiting the building.

Not My First Grammy Sighting

This isn’t the first Grammy I have seen in person. When I was visiting Nashville back in October 2019, I stopped at Third Man Records, owned by Jack White of the White Stripes.

Knowing my brother is a big music nerd, I texted him if he needed me to get him anything from Third Man Records. He sent me a photo of two Grammy’s sitting in a case and asked me to get him one of those. I said I would see what I could do but didn’t expect to be able to get him one.

Two of Jack White's Grammy in a showcase on top of some red and gold fabric with a LEGO figure made out of blocks next to them at Third Man Records in Nashville, TN.

So when I finally found parking there on a weekday, I wandered around a bit, looking to see what they had. I found the case with the two Grammys and sent him a photo that I had found them.

I bought a few records and some 45s from a series of storytelling that they were selling.

Once I got the records to the counter to pay, I mentioned it to the young lady behind the counter. When she asked if I had found everything I wanted that my brother had requested, I grab him a Grammy for him.

She then reached under the counter, asked if I wanted one like this, and handed me a Grammy. It was for Best Rock Performance in 2014 for Jack White’s album “Lazaretto.” So, of course, I grabbed a few selfies and had someone else in line behind me take my photo.

Holding a Jack White Grammy

Me holding Jack White's Grammy for Best Rock Performance in 2014 for Jack's album 'Lazaretto' at Third Man Records in Nashville, TN.

Of course, the young woman told me upon giving me the Grammy, more or less. I could use it for photos only, which implied I couldn’t take it with me.

As people say, they are much heavier than you would expect them to be.

So now I have seen four Grammys within less than a few feet of me and even have photos of me holding at least one of them.

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

When wandering around places, don’t always be on your phone checking social media and looking around your surroundings because you never know what or how you might see when you’re out and about.