ONDBEAT: Mail cancellation delivers another form of fraud in Sunset Beach

A happenstance encounter with a local “hero” mail carrier recently helped offset what could have been a much more expensive fraud case in Sunset Beach.

Local resident “John Doe,” whose name has been changed to protect him and his equally innocent wife, “Jane Doe,” were the victims in this particular case. They noticed the first weekday or two after Veterans Day they were not receiving any mail in their mailbox at their Sunset Beach address.

John Doe thought the explanation for the first day of their empty mailbox might have been because it was the Veterans Day holiday. But by the following Tuesday or Wednesday when they had still not received any mail, the Does were already planning to visit the South Brunswick Post Office on Seaside Road to find out why.

Jane Doe also happened to run into their neighborhood postal carrier, Mr. Mailman Doe, whose name is being protected by the South Brunswick Post Office, as he was going down their street and informed them they hadn’t gotten their mail because there was a “hold mail” designation on their delivery.

The only problem was, the Does had not put a hold on their mail. But someone else, a fraudster somewhere on the loose nearly 700 miles away in New York City, had.

John Doe, who has been working with the Sunset Beach Police Department on this case, believes scammers somehow had gotten hold of their credit card information and were trying to obtain even more personal information about the Does by having their mail stopped in Sunset Beach until mid-December and arranging to have it forwarded to an address in Queens.

“I’d rather have my name (withheld) until they catch the S.O.B.,” he said last week.

He said even if the mailman had not happened by, they were poised to visit the post office and also filed a police report.

The good news is the Does only got scammed out of $1 as the perpetrators apparently tried to test the waters by charging a mere pittance using their credit card information. Their credit card companies have already stepped in to issue new cards and invalidate the old ones.

John Doe believes the incident is an example of scammers who are “crash hacking servers” and selling identities, along with credit card numbers, akin to a cartel peddling drugs on the street.

Sunset Beach Police Detective Stan Gurganus said the matter is under investigation by his department in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service. It’s the first time he’s dealt with this particular type of scam.

Gurganus also advises residents to be as observant as the Does were.

“If your mail’s not coming, inquire as to why like (they) did and try to correct it,” he said.

The “hold mail” scam may be new, but fraudsters are always up to old tricks.

Gurganus said he’s dealing more with scams involving swindlers who continue to contact local residents pretending that a grandchild or other relative has been jailed and needs them to post bond money.

He advises residents to ignore anyone calling asking for money and to hang up, contact family members to make sure everything is OK and call the police.

“Just be vigilant,” he said. “Be aware of scam.”


Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.