Man struggles for reimbursement after check stolen from mailbox, altered

Posted at 4:12 PM, Jun 28, 2018

ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- The name 'Ashleigh Thomas' has given Brendan Kelly lots of headaches since July 2017. That's when he paid his summer property taxes.

Kelly said he wrote a check for $2,292 to Alpine Township for his summer taxes and placed it in his mailbox for the postal worker to pick up.

"I always keep a good update on all of my banking accounts too, and I saw that the check was cashed for the exact amount that I wrote out for. So no warning signs or anything. So all was good until December hits," Kelly recalled.

In December, he said he got a letter in the mail from a US Postal Inspector. It alerted him to checks that had been stolen from area mailboxes. The checks had been altered and cashed.

"They informed me that I was a victim," Kelly said.

He found out the check for his property taxes never made it to the township. Someone had stolen it from his mailbox and changed the payee from 'Alpine Township' to 'Ashleigh Thomas,' as illustrated by the canceled check.

"This criminal took a picture of the check and did a mobile deposit and somehow PNC's software or systems allowed that transaction to go through on a $2,200 check which is clearly altered," Kelly explained.

He filled out an altered check affidavit through his credit union which he said sent the complaint over to PNC Bank where the check was deposited.

"Long story short... because we didn't fill out this affidavit of the altered check within 30 days of after the check being cashed PNC denied it. They denied my claim to get my money back," Kelly said.

He reached out to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers for help after having to write another check to pay his property taxes, including late fees. Kelly said he had to pay $2,500 to Alpine Township. Kelly said there's certainly a lesson learned here.

"Any check of significant amount and if you can hand deliver it to the payee, I highly recommend it," Kelly advised.

He said he also contacted the Kent County Sheriff's Department who told him the US Postal Inspector is the lead investigator on this incident. FOX 17 contacted PNC about the situation. PNC then circled back to Kelly and recollected his information. We will let you know what happens. We will also be sure to let you know when the suspect is charged.