MILWAUKEE -- Not everything that arrives in the mail is what it appears to be. Looking carefully at your mail could save you money!
"This is a government look-alike scheme. And basically, the mailings look like they are from the government," Renee Focht, U.S. postal inspector said.
On one of the mailings, the return address is the address of the California Labor Compliance, and the business compliance department. Then in bold letters, the words: Final Notice.
The problem? There's no such department.
"These mailings looked official. They used names that included the United States, trademark, office," Focht said.
One mailing claimed it would cancel a business trademark if not paid immediately. Immediacy is part of the game.
"Threats to make people hurry up and pay the funds," Focht said.
Postal inspectors say an astute postal employee tipped them off to this case after seeing more than 100 pieces of mail arrive for a rented post office box.
"I just became suspicious because it was just too much mail," Nora Flores, USPS employee said. "Mailings were identical, and she just felt like there was something wrong with it and there was some fraud."
Postal inspectors quickly learned the boxes were rented with false identification. As the investigation grew, inspectors learned losses totaled more than $100,000.
"All of this money was going into bank accounts with false identification. We could never identify the suspect in this case. Everything was done using false identification," Focht said.
The takeaway? Don't pay a bill if it doesn't look familiar.
"Recipients have to be really careful and make sure that what it is they are receiving if they are going to pay something that is actually from a government office," Focht said.