Victims of fraud and forgery are just now surfacing as a result of the theft of mail from 10 separate community mailboxes in January.
The crime is commonly known as "identity theft." Residents who had their mail stolen during an eight-day period from Jan. 16 through Jan. 23 are now seeing fraudulent charges on their credit cards, new charge accounts being created in their names as well as computer generated checks with their account numbers.
The Gila County Sheriff's department arrested Tiffany Vernon, 24, of Payson Feb. 14, following a search warrant on her home, in connection with the theft of mail from the boxes and related forgery charges.
However, it may take detectives weeks to sort through the evidence to determine how many victims of fraud and identity theft resulted from the stolen mail.
Payson is not alone in this surfacing crime wave. According to Lori Shewey, customer service supervisor for the Payson post office, Pine and Roosevelt may be the latest targets.
"Sometime between Sunday night, Feb. 17 and Monday morning, Feb. 18, someone sawed off the locks to the blue mail collection boxes in front of the Pine and Roosevelt post offices and took all the mail," Shewey said.
The post office this week posted signs on all its blue collection boxes asking customers to not deposit mail in them after the collection pick-up time. The time is posted on each box.
"We are asking customers to bring their mail to the main post office in their area and drop it in the outgoing mail slot inside the post office," Shewey said.
Shewey said that as a result of the mail theft in January, she has had customers coming to the post office to report fraudulent activity and forged checks.
"I am referring them to either the sheriff's office or the police department, depending on where they live," Shewey said.
The mailboxes that were broken into were located at:
Highway 260 and Lion Springs Road
Dealers Choice and Highway 260
300 block of S. Bentley
1100 block of E. Cedar
1200 block of E. Cedar
Moose Lodge in Star Valley
2401 W. Graff
1100 S. Western and Remuda
1117 S. Promontory Way
S. Sutton at E. Granite Dells,
If you received mail at any of the community mailboxes listed during the month of January, it is recommended you check all your personal accounts for fraudulent charges and contact the three major credit bureaus regarding any activity or new charge accounts set up without your permission. The three main credit bureaus can be reached at Equifax (800) 685-1111; Experian (888) 397-3742; TransUnion (800) 916-8800.