South Philadelphia business becomes latest victim of check washing scheme

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — A South Philadelphia electrical contracting company is looking for answers after its checks were stolen.

“It’s so disruptive and it feels very violating. It’s also hard because it seems that nobody cares,” said Debra Lutz.

Lutz is the owner of GEN3 Electric. There are about seven fraudulent checks that Lutz knows of, and the people trying to cash them from her small business account are from all over the map.

“We’ve seen a lot right out of New York City, Bethlehem, Pa., St. Louis, Missouri, Danville, Virginia,” said Lutz.

Since July, GEN3 Electric has been dealing with mailed checks being stolen. The checks are then washed and edited with a new recipient trying to cash in.

“They tried to steal over $140,000 and we believe they got their hands on six or seven checks total,” said Lutz.

All of the checks have something in common.

“They were all mailed from our mailbox which was on the corner at 26th and Wharton streets,” said Lutz.

Office manager Dottie Robbins has reported the theft to the bank, local police and USPS inspector. She says she’s gotten nowhere in terms of answers.

“They say, ‘Oh yeah, these are big amounts. The bigger team is gonna call you.’ Nobody has called us. Nobody,” said Robbins.

Robbins and bank management have been vigilant enough to prevent these fraudulent checks from being cashed.

The postal inspector wouldn’t respond to questions about this investigation. Philadelphia’s South Detectives is also investigating.

“We want to ensure that everything is functioning properly and this is a question of accountability,” said Congressman Dwight Evans (PA-3rd).

On Wednesday, a congressional field hearing happening at Temple University Center will focus on delivery and theft issues within the USPS.

“The issues with the postal service are nationwide. The statistics show they are worse in our area than any other area in the country,” said Congressman Brendan Boyle (PA-02).