It’s been a busy news day so our toplines are going to have to wait to be added later – but for starters, here’s the video of the hour-plus presentation by Seattle Police Officer Jon Kiehn and U.S. Postal Inspectors Matt Rintoul and Sumyra Duy, talking about mail theft/fraud at last night’s meeting of the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network. (There weren’t any revelatory visuals, so if you just want to play it back as background audio, that works too.) More than 40 people filled the room at the Southwest Precinct. Tips were shared, myths debunked, and helpful information offered – including how to report mail theft online: postalinspectors.uspis.gov.
ADDED: Some toplines – though we highly recommend listening to/watching the clip to get all the info.
OFFICER KIEHN’S POINTS: A couple were general – don’t ever call the precinct if you’re looking to get an officer dispatched; they are dispatched via 911. When you do call 911, realize that it’s not a call “for conversation” – the person you’re talking to is filling out a list, and it’s your job to help them fill out that list so that they get information and get you help. If you are reporting a suspicious vehicle, the license plate is the most important piece of information you can provide; make and model and color, etc., come after that. Overall, be aware of what’s going on around you – always.
POSTAL INSPECTORS: A few key points – right now, only four inspectors are working on mail theft in all of Western Washington, so your action to stop or prevent it is vital. “Target hardening,” for example – get a locking mailbox, or a private mailbox with either the USPS or a mailbox business. If you can’t do that, make sure your mail is picked up as soon as possible after it’s delivered; make arrangements with a neighbor, if you’re not there to do it yourself. And call police about any suspicious activity around a mailbox.
SCAMS THAT ARE STILL ‘BIG’: The “foreign lottery” – a claim that you’ve won a prize but have to pay to claim it. Usually, those who fall for this are warned not to tell their family; one area woman was bilked out of tens of thousands of dollars, and even after authorities got involved, refused to believe them: The inspectors say they intercepted $10,000 of her money “but she sent $8,000 right back!”
Especially if you have elderly, or otherwise vulnerable, family members, warn them about this – don’t just wait to discover they’ve come into contact with it.
Also, they warned about the “mystery shopper” scam, and other “work at home” schemes.
There’s a “scheme alert” page on the Postal Inspection Service website – see it here.
To contact the inspectors who spoke at the meeting: