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Fort Worth business owners say thieves stole and altered checks for thousands of dollars

Jon Bonnell and Marcus Kypreos said they put checks in USPS drop boxes and later noticed the checks had new payee names and new amounts

FORT WORTH, Texas — Several Fort Worth business owners say thieves tried to steal tens of thousands of dollars by taking and altering checks they mailed.

Jon Bonnell is the executive chef and owner at Bonnell’s Restaurant Group and oversees five restaurants in the area. About a week after he mailed 16 checks in late May, his wife noticed that one to a food distributor, for more than $25,000, had been adjusted with a new name as the payee and that it had been deposited at a drive-thru ATM.

“My wife called me and said, ‘I think we got a big problem with our checking account’,” Bonnell said.

He says all of the checks were placed in the US Postal Service drop box on Oak Park Lane and South Hulen Street. He then noticed two other checks had also been stolen and altered.

“The bank was very quick to pick up on it too and say, ‘alright, these are fraudulent, sign the affidavit’, and we closed the account to where nobody could take any more out,” Bonnell said.

Not long after Bonnell’s checks were stolen, Markus Kypreos, the owner of Blackland Distillery, dropped off a check in the USPS box at Bailey and University.

“I clicked online, and I saw that the payee was not anyone recognized,” Kypreos said. “They had made a copy of the check, changed everything on it. They even changed my signature which I thought was odd.”

They’d also changed the amount from around $3,000 to more than $7,000.

“I know it’s a large number of people that have been affected by this,” he said.

Bonnell said he’s also aware of at least three other businesses with checks stolen from drop boxes recently.

“I couldn’t believe that we got them stolen from the post office of all places,” Bonnell said. “When we pulled the checkup online and looked at it, I thought, ‘OK, someone has stolen our checks out of the mail and we need to go take a look.'”

“I think when you lose this trust, all of a sudden you feel a little more vulnerable that way," Kypreos said. 

Both Kypreos and Bonnell filed police reports and were told these stolen checks were part of a large federal case. Fort Worth Police, the FBI and US Postal Service all said they couldn’t confirm an investigation.

The postal service could only share tips, including removing mail from your mailbox, dropping off letters inside a post office and never sending cash or coins in the mail.

Kypreos says now, he’ll just switch to paying online only.

“Obviously, I hope that they catch all of these people and arrest them, and they spend the rest of their lives in prison,” he said.

“It’s kind of amazing to me just how easy this seems,” Bonnell said. “Seems like it’s a little bit too simple.”

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