Quick-Thinking Clerks Save Customers from Scams
Would service like that continue if retail is privatized?
03/30/2016 - Thanks to vigilant clerks, two elderly customers were saved from mail-fraud scams in recent weeks.
The first incident took place in Baltimore, when APWU member Loretta Green got suspicious after a customer said he wanted to send an $800 money order to Georgia via Express Mail == without identifying a payee.
“Why would you want to do that?” Green thought. Green and her co-workers began asking the customer questions, and the story emerged. He had received a call at his home, telling him that if he sent a blank $800 money order, he would get back $2 million.
After Green explained that he was being set up for a scam, the man cancelled his order.
“I told him that he is going to get another phone call and that he should ignore it. They are going to keep wanting his money – and he would have probably kept sending it,” Green said. “I care about my customers. That’s what I do,” she said.
The second incident took place in Bellevue, NE, when an elderly woman came to William Reynek’s window with $2,400 in cash, which she wanted to send to the East Coast via Express Mail.
“I thought it was kind of funny and kept asking who she was sending it to,” Reynek recalled. “I said, ‘You know, you don’t want to send this much cash through the mail, why don’t we send money orders? It’s more secure.’”
The customer agreed, but a half hour later returned because she wanted to change the payee. “Red flags went off everywhere,” Reynek said.
Reynek convinced the customer to get the person she was sending the money to on the phone. When he asked what the relationship was to the customer, a voice in a heavy accent kept answering, “a relative.” That’s when he knew it was a scam. Reynek reversed the order and told the customer to deposit the money back in the bank.
“I don’t want to be intrusive, but I don’t want to see somebody scammed out of a large amount of cash,” he said. “I am proud to be a postal employee and proud to be able to help someone vulnerable.”
Management’s efforts to privatize retail operations would make service of this caliber a thing of the past, noted APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “There’s no way a Staples employee would have the experience or training to be aware of scams like these and be able to advise customers to avoid them,” he said. “And customers probably wouldn’t have the long-term trusting relationships to be guided by private-sector clerks.”