Washing away your money: Con men fuel drug habits with check washing scam

MINNESOTA — Not every check you put in the mail is safe. Con men have figured out a way to make big money using checks with your signature.

"A gang  of  people that were addicted to methamphetamine," said U.S. Postal Inspector Troy Sabby.

A group of criminals started up an illegal check washing scam to bankroll their drug habits.

"You get a chemical. You put it in a little wash bin. You can put a check in there and the handwritten ink will come off. And you can therefore use that check and put whatever you want in there," Sabby explained.

The 10 con men were making checks out to fake names and producing phony IDs.

"These people were able to get a hold of blank temporary drivers license copies and so then, they were able to put whatever information they needed on there and they were very good at it," said Sabby.

There were hundreds of victims.

"It's a fairly simple crime for the suspect to do and it's a very hard crime for the victims to wash what they did to them away," Sabby said.

The losses were not only financial — many were personal.

"There were checks that were going, you know, to nephews and to grandchildren for birthdays and, you know, they find out later that their grandchild didn't get their check and what is that kid thinking on their birthday?" Sabby said.

Some advice — check your bank and credit cards statements daily to make sure there are no erroneous charges.