Local family claims they were victims of a mailbox fishing scheme

- Fox 29 is investigating money orders that are disappearing. Area postal inspectors say it’s what they call “postal fishing” and a local family believes they’re the victims of this scheme.

In the spring of 2017, Eleanor Gibson bought 4 money orders from MoneyGram at a local ShopRite in order to pay her Comcast and car insurance bills.

She dropped the over $1,100 in money orders in a mailbox at Tulip and Tioga and didn’t give it another thought until her cable was cut off.

“They never received them!” Eleanor said.

FOX 29's Jeff Cole asked, “What do you mean they never received them?”

Tina Brown, Gibson’s daughter, replied, “Comcast, we woke up one day and we didn’t have any service.”

Gibson also heard from her insurer – Safeco – saying her coverage had been dropped.

The 76-year-old life-long Philly resident is pinching pennies. She says her income was cut in half when her husband died.

She says losing the money and having to pay all over again to get her cable back and re-insure her car was a big hit.

“Somebody got them and cashed them and it wasn’t Comcast and it wasn’t Safeco.”

Gibson and Brown share the home. They began their own investigation and learned the money orders were actually cashed at two local banks. But, they don’t know who took them to the bank or how they got their hands on the money orders.

Gibson said, “The only thing we can figure out was that they were all mailed from the same postal box at Tioga and Tulip.”

Fox 29 contacted the local office of the U.S. Postal Inspectors. It’s the law enforcement agency for the Postal Service.

An investigator spoke with Gibson and her daughter and opened a probe into a crime called mailbox fishing. It’s low tech theft in which the thief finds a way to actually “fish” mail out of mail boxes.

A postal investigator asked Fox 29 not to reveal how it’s actually done, but Fox 29 has confirmed postal inspectors are working an on-going investigation of “mailbox fishing” in the Philadelphia region.

Postal inspectors tell Fox 29 there are ways to avoid mailbox fishing. Don’t let mail sit in a postal box overnight. Make sure there is no glue residue around the lid of the box. That’s used to get the mail out. And, try to drop mail close to pick-up time.

Gibson said, “I feel nobody wants to take it seriously. Maybe $1,159 isn’t a lot of money for some people, but it is to me.”

Gibson and her daughter are frustrated. They’d like to get their money back, but fear it won’t happen. And, they want somebody to pay the price.

Brown said, “The person who stole them should be prosecuted and the person who cashed the checks should be in just as much trouble.

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