All it took was one phone call to unravel a multi-million dollar scam. The case began when a company called authorities to report that an $85,000 check it was expecting in the mail, never arrived.
"That $85,000 check ballooned into a $25 million ID theft investigation," said U.S. Postal Inspector Darnell Edwards.
Postal inspectors say one of the suspects was stealing checks, usually for large sums, right out of the mail.
"They would slightly alter the name on the check to throw off the scent if you will," explained Edwards.
For example, if the company was called ABCD, they would make it ABCD Incorporated.
"They would go to the bank and indicate they were the owner or president of the company. They would open the business account, several days later they would deposit the fairly large check, they would draw down the account as quickly as they could," Edwards explained.
In addition to opening up checking accounts, the suspects were also getting fraudulent credit cards in the names of the bogus businesses. One suspect agreed to allow postal inspectors to search his home. Investigators found plenty of evidence including 300 credit cards.
"They were all sectioned off into sevens," said Edwards. "One for each day of the week. So Sunday, they would swipe x amount of credit cards for x amount of dollars, Monday, Tuesday."
Edwards warns, if you think a scam like this only impacts big banks, thing again.
"Even with the banks, when they suffer a loss, our fees go up," he added.
The three men in this case were charged with bank fraud, mail fraud, identity theft, passport fraud and false statements. All three of the men were sentenced to prison with sentences varying from 3 to 7 years.