With the growth of the internet and increase in its use for financial transactions, the number of paper checks has declined. Nevertheless, paper checks are still providing fertile ground for forgers and others who want to abuse the banking system. The occurrence of three incidents of check washing at a Virginia Beach post office have police in the area searching for suspects.
What is check washing?
A check washing initiates the crime by stealing one or more handwritten and completely filled out checks. The theft of the check can occur in many ways, but in the case from Virginia Beach, the checks appear to have been stolen from the U.S. mails. The check washer next erases the date, the amount in both numerals and words, the date of the check, and most importantly the identity of the payee. New information is inserted, and the check is submitted for payment.
In the third case reported from the Virginia Beach bank, a check in the amount of $89 intended to pay a utility bill was stolen and the amount of the check was changed to $9,700. Experts say that the amount was a strategic attempt to avoid triggering a federal statute that requires banks to report all checks that they cash that exceed $10,000.
What lies ahead?
If the persons who have carried out this check washing scheme are apprehended, they will face serious criminal charges that may include incarceration and a fine. Anyone charged with check washing or a related crime may want to consult an experienced criminal attorney for an evaluation of the evidence, potential legal defenses, and assistance in negotiating an appropriate plea agreement.