But Post Offices in Gracey and Cerulean held a Customer Appreciation Day last week anyways, awarding customers not just with treats prepared by Gracey Postmaster Sally Porter, but also with knowledge to protect them from several prevalent forms of mail fraud.
In 2003, U.S. Postal Inspectors investigated more than 3,100 fraud cases, stemming from more than 80,000 complaints.
“There’s a lot of devious folks out there,” said Cerulean Postmaster John DeBlois, adding, “And if you’re not careful, all it takes is one time” to be personally defrauded.
Porter and DeBlois armed their customers last week with large Ziploc bags — filled with information from the U.S. Postal Service about some of the more common schemes and how they can be protected against.
According to the U.S.P.S., the five top mail fraud schemes — based on the number of victims and the amount of monetary loss each year — are:
• Free-prize schemes, in which a postcard urges you to call a phone number to redeem a valuable prize. As part of the “processing fee,” victims are persuaded to give out their credit-card number, eventually saddling them with hundreds of dollars in unauthorized charges.
• Work-at-home schemes, in which ads persuade victims to send $25 for a work-at-home kit, which often winds up being instructions for placing the same ad the victim first responded to.
• Investment-fraud schemes, often printed on high-quality color brochures, that promise unusually high rates of return. Victims are often pressured to make a hasty decision because new investment units “are selling fast.”
• Foreign-lottery scams, in which victims are told they can collect hundreds of thousands of dollars for paying a relatively small processing fee.
• Pyramid schemes, though well known at this point, continue to defraud Americans of their hard-earned dollars.
For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.