Well That’s Just Crap-tastic. (Public Service Announcement)

What

OK, sorry about the Damn It, Richard. It’s hardly your fault that I spend so much time Preoccupied.

Word to the wise… don’t EVER put checks in the mailbox! I totally should have known better… we’ve all heard stories about stolen checks. However, because I only have so many hours in the day… ok, that doesn’t exactly hold water, either, seeing as how I spend a preposterous amount of time PreoccupiedWithArmitage online… damn it, Richard!

Let’s face facts: I’m just too lazy to make trips to the post office!

Let’s back up a moment. As many of you know, I own my veterinary practice. Or the bank does. A couple of years ago, when Hubby and I first started the process of purchasing the hospital, we learned that the practice itself is an entity, comprised of its clientele/records, equipment, pharmacy and all that jazz. The building and property are a separate entity, and were sold to us separately. Our accountant suggested that we form two separate LLCs, one for the veterinary practice, and one for the real estate, mainly for tax and liability purposes… and that’s what we did. Any veterinary practice, it turns out, pays a monthly rent, whether to an outside party, or to the owner itself. In my case, I pay rent to my real estate LLC… not making very much money off of it, as the LLC then basically uses all but a fraction of the rent payment to pay the real estate mortgage. The practice pays a separate mortgage for itself. All this to say… I have two business checking accounts. The primary account is for the practice, and pays all of the bills, its own mortgage, the many forms of insurance, the payroll, the taxes, the inventory, laboratory fees, licensing fees… the list goes on indefinitely. The secondary account is for the real estate entity, and pays only its mortgage payment, plus once in a while, a bill that applies strictly to the building itself, such as a plumbing repair.

Bad Idea

Yes. It was most definitely a bad idea.

Last month, early October, I put my mortgage payments in the mail box…. one envelope containing both mortgage checks (out of separate checking accounts) which goes to the same company holding the loans on both… why not save a stamp? These are some of the largest checks that I write, so I always keep an eye on the bank accounts to see when they clear, and in the 2 years that I’ve owned the practice, they’ve always cleared the bank within a week of my putting them in the mail. Not last month… I watched and watched, and never saw the mortgage payments show up. Finally on Monday, the first business day in November, I decided to call the company to inquire about whether they’d received the payments, and when I did that, I happened to notice that there was a check cleared on Monday for $204 written off of the secondary real estate account. I clicked on the check, not remembering any plumbing repairs etc., and sure enough, it looked like a banking error. The check was written by a “Garrison and Sons” with a local address, and made out to an auto parts store. After learning that the mortgage payments indeed never reached their destination, I then called the bank to dispute the $204 check that was written by another local business. The bank looked it over and agreed to refund the $204, and I didn’t think much of it.

DarnO

Oh, snap!

Yesterday, I decided to check the account to see if the bank had refunded its error, and low and behold, there were 4 more checks written off this account. All from “Garrison and Sons”… I called the bank again, and this time, I clicked over to the primary account and noticed 2 checks that cleared yesterday written off the primary account… and you guessed it… this other account was now clearing checks written by “Garrison and Sons”. Suddenly the light bulb went on! I realized this was check fraud, if it involved my two separate accounts purporting to be the same “Garrison and Sons”… and sure enough, a quick google search revealed that “Garrison and Sons” was completely bogus and didn’t exist in our town.

Oh There Are Others

Well… Yes. There were others.

Apparently, some miscreant, in bold daylight, took my mortgage payments out of the mailbox in the 2 hour time frame between when I’d put them there and when the mailman arrives (as a matter of habit I always write and mail checks first thing in the morning, and he arrives mid-morning)… and then somehow printed some very convincing checks for “Garrison and Sons” that had my bank routing numbers and account numbers along the bottom. All this took a couple of weeks, as the first checks started clearing just this week, and I count myself very fortunate that they made the mistake of using my secondary checking account first. Since I almost never write any check out of that secondary account except the one mortgage payment, I caught it quickly. Had they only used my primary checking account… well, it would have taken a long time for me to catch that, as I write at least 30 checks per month out of that account. Most likely, as long as they stayed within reasonable amounts less than $500, I’d not have looked twice at checks clearing the primary account for who knows how long!

IWasSoShocked

If you can’t lip read… he’s saying “I WAS SO SHOCKED!” Well, so was I! I mean… Braums? Really?

One kind of funny thing about all this was that aside from that first check made out to the auto parts store, all 6 of the other checks out of both accounts were made out to Braums, a local fast-food restaurant. Hubby and I were joking that it was a good thing that whoever stole our account routing numbers didn’t have more refined tastes! I mean, if I was going to do check fraud and spend it all on restaurants, I’d be fine dining! LOL.

But that’s the only funny thing about it. It turns out that the only option at this point was to close those accounts and open new ones… and be more careful about the checks in the future. This was a simple task for the secondary account… but the primary account? What a huge crap-tastic headache! Not only are our merchant services (all the payments made to the business via credit card) tied into that account, but the payroll, state and federal taxes, insurance payments and a long list of other bills are automatically/electronically drawn from that account. Which means that after spending 2 hours at the bank opening new accounts, transferring money etc., I then had to contact at least 15 other companies to notify them to draw payments out of a new account.

Speculation!

Yes, thankfully I DID begin to speculate… just how many checks did those sleazy Garrisons and Sons intercept?

Then it occured to me that I’d better go through my checkbook and follow-up on every check written in October… first to be sure it had cleared, so there wouldn’t be any outstanding checks trying to clear a closed account, and second in case more checks never did arrive at their destination. Turns out I’d actually written 2 other checks on that fateful day in early October, and neither had cleared… so the scumbags apparently took all my mail out of the box that day and other payments aside from the mortgage never reached their destination. So I had to also call those companies and explain why those payments were late. I’m telling you… it was a headache that took literally an entire day to resolve, because each of those various companies involves a lot of phone waiting time, explaining the situation, getting transferred to different departments, then filling out appropriate forms and faxing them in.

 

Such a waste of time and energy, and all so some jackass could eat at Braums!!

physicality7

My Young Love Persona Non Grata was lucky I didn’t make him my whipping boy….

Then, as if that weren’t enough crap for one day, I was on the phone with some company or other when a call came through that I let go to voicemail. Turns out, the voicemail was from my Young Love’s Persona Non Grata’s teacher. He apparently pushed a classmate into a computer station in anger after not getting a turn at the computer task, and was sent to the Principal’s office. So he’s in big huge HORRIBLE trouble (and he’s lucky I didn’t take out my frustrations of the day by paddling his little ass!)…. as it is, he’s lost all his electronic privileges, his Halloween candy, his Gymnastics Play Night for November and has acquired a number of unsavory new chores for the next 2 weeks, minimum, pending perfect behavior at home and at school for the duration! (He’s lucky Hubby just texted me that the Young Persona Non Grata did manage to make the honor roll… mollified me just a bit!)

thumbs up

Everyone cool with that? Good. Public Service Announcement finished.

At any rate…. apologies for the rant… but please, don’t make my mistake!

Public service announcement: If you write checks at all in this modern day and age… do NOT put them into your mailbox!

Please… drop them off at the post office BEFORE you resume your regular Richarding activities!

 

 

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25 comments

  1. trudystattle · November 5, 2015

    Wow, glad you caught that. I’m always amazed that criminals that clever don’t go and get a REAL job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jholland · November 5, 2015

      I know! They did some pretty fancy footwork to create and pass checks that the bank (and Braums!) apparently didn’t look twice at. You’d think they could apply themselves to an honest task and be quite successful. =)

      Like

  2. Perry · November 5, 2015

    Oy Vey. I assume you put them in your private mailbox (I’m used to US Mailboxes on every corner) Lucky it took only one day to clear up. Lucky you caught it, and why in the world would a fast food place wither take checks for food, or cash checks? Wow – you were really hard on the little persona non grata – even gymnastics play night?

    Like

    • jholland · November 5, 2015

      Yes, we have a typical mailbox at the curbside in front of the clinic. The nearest drop box is about a mile away, but it’s more of a hassle to go through all this again than it is to go a mile out of my way after work with my checks. I’m changing my ways!

      Re: the Persona Non Grata… oh, it’s going to sting when he accompanies us to drop off Little Sister for Gymnastics Play Night, then has to stay with boring old Mommy and Daddy for the evening. *rubs hands in anticipation*

      Like

  3. Esther · November 5, 2015

    Holy shit! That’s no good!! Glad you caught the check thing on time and what a pain to have to change it all…Can’t you do all payments online? I haven’t used checks in eons, pay everything online through online bank transfers.
    Oops on your little persona non grata…. guess he understands the rules now…
    Oh, and I loved the GIFs accompanying your tale!

    Like

    • jholland · November 5, 2015

      I am going to see about doing payments online. I’m sure almost all the various companies can arrange for either automatic electronic transfers or the bill pay system. A lot of my creditors required that- insurance companies, phone service etc, when I signed up. The rest that didn’t require it, I just wrote checks for… but I’m definitely rethinking that now. About those gifs… I figured if I was going to rant, I might as well at least provide some form of Richard material for my poor readers. =)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. richardtreehouse · November 5, 2015

    It sounds like a nightmare! It’s almost always one thing on top of another, isn’t it?

    One night I drove to the post office to mail bills and there was a man standing next to the box. He informed me someone had broken into it and not to put my letters in the box. You couldn’t tell from my side and I am so grateful that a citizen cared enough to wait and inform people until the police showed up.

    Last week I got a call from my credit card company asking me to verify charges made on my card. It was eight separate charges made to four companies on one day totaling $4,000. None were purchases I had made. I have only ever used this card online so it had to have been stolen information. I called all the companies I had recently done business with and they all assured me my info was safe with them. One suggested it might have been hacked where the card was made. I had just received a replacement card the month before. Basically I was told I’ll never really know so I had to close the account and put a voluntary freeze on my credit. The point being, you have to be careful online too.

    My problem was simple compared to yours and I am so glad you caught it as quickly as you did. (((Tree)))

    Like

    • jholland · November 5, 2015

      I feel your pain… it’s still a hassle when something happens with your credit card. A similar thing happened on one of our credit cards at some point years ago… someone went on quite the shopping spree. Poor Hubby (who handles all the bills at home) was completely shocked at what he thought was my out-of-control spending that month. Turns out it wasn’t me (not that I haven’t ever done any out-of-control spending, but usually only at Christmas…. LOL) Thankfully he decided to gently confront me and we realized that at least that time around, I was innocent in the matter. =)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Guylty · November 5, 2015

    Oh what a saga. So sorry you were ripped off by some criminal elements. And glad you found out before it got even worse. I am pretty bad when it comes to money matters and have been the victim of card fraud a couple of times. The money was always refunded to me, and in fact it was the bank that noticed the irregular spending patterns and alerted me. But the snafu connected with applying for new cards and then changing standing orders etc is a massive pain in the arse. I suppose we should all learn from these incidents and be more vigilant when it comes to check and card transactions. In Ireland, they are currently in the process of getting rid of checks altogether. But my example shows that card fraud is just as easily possible…

    Like

    • jholland · November 5, 2015

      Yes… it really made me start to think about how easy it could have been for them to bilk me for months out of thousands of dollars… if they’d just stuck with the primary account. Definitely a good lesson for me. I’m going to start verifying all the checks clearing that primary account… it only takes one quick click, after all, to see whether it was something I wrote or not! Live and learn… LOL. But thank you again for the glittery hearts Porter shrine. I TRULY needed some Richard Bling last night!

      Like

  6. Hariclea · November 5, 2015

    oh hon, what a nigthmare!!! i understand as it has happened to me too, but not with checks , it was card fraud. However since extra security measures are in place it has not happened before, i only do electronic payments and these have additional passwords and such so any change is noticed instantly. I have to wonder at the uselessness of the bank though 😦 Here is you have to chance accounts for whatever reason the bank will do all the communications and moves for you. Also they would have advised against use of checks a long long time ago.
    We all use online banking, we really even send each other money among friends for cinema tickets or just small stuff we buy bulk for several people. I never even carry cash more than £10. Yes theft can still happen electronically but i don’t give my card to people anywhere to walk away with it, i pay always in front of myself not with card taken away and the actual card cannot be used anywhere without the pin/password so even if i loose it physically nobody can do much and i can cancel it straight away.
    So sorry this happened but have a look at online banking, it is so much more convenient and safe and as to that hassle of moves just do direct debits where you can, make your bank work for you as i am sure they charge fees anyways! Big hug!!

    Upsy the little one, that seems a bit harsh but sound right, he’ll think twice next time and if he behaves well you can always alleviate some of the penalties 😉 He did pick the wrong day to be a little bit naughty poor kid 😉
    i appreciate your generosity with gifs under these circumstances :-)))

    Like

    • jholland · November 5, 2015

      I totally am motivated to get into the electronic payments for everything that will allow me to. It’ll take a little leg work at the beginning, but after that, it’ll no doubt take less time to pay the bills. And yes, we came down hard on the “little one” but he knows better. I don’t want him to turn into the class bully. He’s just such a big guy (takes after his Daddy) that I can’t have him learning that he can get what he wants by pushing people around. He’s in first grade, but bigger than most of the 4th and 5th graders! And yes… he definitely picked the wrong day to cross me! LOL. Oh, and about the Halloween candy… he sweet-talked his sister into sharing hers. Silver-tongued devil. =)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Gratiana Lovelace · November 5, 2015

    Ooh! Sorry to hear about your checking account troubles. And I’m surprised that the bank didn’t catch the fraud–let alone, they didn’t suggest that your accounts should be put on alert or frozen to prevent further fraud. Apart from closing and opening new checking accounts, have you considered changing banks? Hope it all gets straightened out.

    And great Richarding picture/gif examples! I’m going to share your post link here in my WWRD post’s comments section.

    Like

    • jholland · November 6, 2015

      No, I haven’t thought of changing banks because I like the banker at our local branch and have good rapport with her. I was somewhat irritated when they told me the only option was to close those accounts… I thought it would be simpler if they could just put a flag on the account to physically look at all the checks and not clear anything by “Garrison and Sons” or any other name that might appear other than my name! But I guess everything is so automated these days that nobody even looks, as long as the routing numbers and account numbers match with a real account! Grrrhhh! Thanks for sharing the link on your blog… it’s certainly a lesson learned for me, and if anyone else is in my same habit of just trusting the good old mailbox… hopefully they’ll rethink that, as I now have. LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  8. linnetmoss · November 6, 2015

    Such an ordeal! But this was educational for me. I usually think of identity theft as stealing cards or one’s social security number. This is a good reminder that old fashioned check fraud is still around, and it may just get me (finally) to move to online payments…

    Like

    • jholland · November 6, 2015

      Yep, check fraud is alive and well, apparently! It’s definitely time to make a change. “I never thought it would happen to me” isn’t a very good excuse. =)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Mimi Cruz · November 6, 2015

    We actually take all our mail to the post office and hubs insists on walking it inside even. It has turned into late night drives for us and our dogs where the boys, (hairballs, dogs) get an extra chance to check on their pee-mail as well. So yeah, those crooks make life troublesome, but we try to make it a few extra minutes to spend together since we both work so many hours everyday. I’d so enjoy beating those crooks with a bat-a-rang or Catwoman’s whip, if I had the chance. You have my sympathies.

    Like

    • jholland · November 6, 2015

      Oh, yes… I’d really like them to be caught and if not catwoman-whipped, at least suffer some criminal charges. I highly doubt it will be pursued, though. The bank said they were unlikely to do a deep investigation since it was caught early and it was relatively low dollar amounts (all 7 checks together came to less than $600 which must be small potatoes to them- at least I’m not liable for the $600!) LOL @ checking the pee-mail! I bet they look forward to that very eagerly!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mimi Cruz · November 8, 2015

        Yes they certainly do and sometimes there is a lot of pee-mail to check 🌻

        Liked by 1 person

  10. crystalchandlyre · November 8, 2015

    My heart goes out to you. I have been through the fraud nightmare machine myself, and unfortunately several times, but just not to this degree.

    And the post box problem is a big issue here as well, so much so that some drive up boxes in Pasadena very recently have been locked up at night at the snout. I thought the sticky stuff bandits were limited and mostly of urban legend for a while until I saw evidence of it myself recently on the inside of an outside box slot lid. There was quite a bit. And once I saw that there was so much mail stuck inside that it pushed up and out of the snout. I gave it a shove, but very little gave way and pushed back.

    Since then I have still been occasionally putting my mail into the drive up boxes at night. But with this info here, into the post office I now go and I sincerely thank you for it.

    Like

    • jholland · November 9, 2015

      Sticky stuff? I hadn’t heard of that, actually. Sheesh! I was planning to use the drop boxes in front of the post office… now I believe I’d better go inside. So thank YOU for the heads up! That would really burn me if it all happened again despite my driving to the drop box… LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Servetus · November 11, 2015

    Uch, that’s a federal crime, I believe. I’m also a bit surprised that Braum’s still takes checks. So many restaurants don’t. What a HUGE hassle. Hugs.

    Like

    • jholland · November 11, 2015

      Yeah, anything to do with a mailbox is a federal crime, which sounds ominous but apparently no biggie to these Braums customers! LOL. It was a hassle and I’m still dealing with it! That primary account can’t be closed until my merchant services gets its ass in gear (hopefully tomorrow), and I found another Garrison and Sons check had cleared yesterday! (This was despite my putting a stop on all checks from that account… definitely a mystery there that the bank customer service was scratching their heads about.) Grrrrrr!

      Like

      • Servetus · November 11, 2015

        My goodness — if they can’t enforce their own rules on their own system? Maybe you do need another bank.

        Like

        • jholland · November 11, 2015

          I definitely had that thought. But then I thought about making all those damned calls again… and I can’t bear it! =)

          Liked by 1 person

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