MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A man walks into a post office with a $49,000 check -- and this isn't the beginning of a joke. It's a reminder of why it's important that you keep an eye on your checkbook.
"It wasn`t quite the normal customer. There was something about him that my staff picked up," Customer Service Manager Melinda Martel said.
The customer asked to buy several rolls of stamps and cash his check, so the clerk asked him for ID.
"He`s insisting that he`s in a hurry. He`s insisting that he doesn`t get questioned for ID," Martel said.
Postal employees were trying to keep the man there so they could get a picture of him and alert inspectors.
"He got nervous, waiting for so long for us to attend to him, and he wasn`t getting his goods. He got nervous, left the check, and walked out of the building," Martel said.
The post office prevented this particular loss, but this suspect had been running an elaborate check fraud scheme for months.
"They use checks that are either bad or they`re drafted from accounts that are closed and they use those checks to make purchases," U.S. Postal Inspector Troy Dickinson said.
In this case, it was stamps.
"He would buy 400 to 600 stamps at one point and that`s unusual for someone to buy so many stamps," Dickinson said.
The man would then sell the stamps to anybody.
"To pawn stores, or people on the streets. He might say 'I`m a small business owner and I just need money real quick. I just bought all these stamps and I`m willing to sell them to you for a discount,'" Dickinson said.
This wasn't the man's first operation.
"This was one person who figured out how to take advantage of a situation. He wrote numerous checks. He got the post office for almost $40,000," Dickinson said.
The suspect was caught, convicted and is now serving seven years in prison. The story is an important reminder to protect your personal information, and your checks.