LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Do a simple Google search and you’ll find all across the country, U.S. Postal Service workers are under attack. Why? A postal worker’s Arrow key accesses every U.S. postal service mailbox in a region. And, for a criminal, getting their hands on one of those is the first step in a massive check fraud scheme.

In January, we told you about a Lexington mail carrier, robbed at gunpoint on Spring Meadows Drive. Police are still working to positively identify the robber in a photo taken from a nearby convenience store around the time of the crime.

For Central Bank, 2022 was their worst year ever for check fraud and their investigators say the organized crime ring behind the fraud, starts by ordering the robberies of the mail carriers.

“Some of the street gangs aren’t bothering with drugs anymore,” said Central Bank’s Director of Financial Intelligence and Security Shane Ensminger. “There’s no risk in stealing mail, having people cash checks and bring you back the money. “

Leaders of crime syndicates from places like Toledo, Detroit and Atlanta send their mules up and down I-75. “What we’ve learned in the last few years is (they’re after) checks. Mostly business checks,” Ensminger said. “Business checks can be in the six figure range easily.”

Gang members get their hands on those checks then scour places like social media and homeless shelters looking for someone to fraudulently cash them.

“They call them check walkers. And they don’t disguise it. If it’s a $10,000 check you’ll get $1,000,” Ensminger said. “But what they don’t tell them is you’re going to go to jail because you got caught.”  

Gang Members have mastered the art of keeping layers between themselves and those on the front lines of the bad behavior. It’s the people they recruit who end up paying the price.

“Scammers are getting more and more sophisticated,” said Tim Schenk, deputy counsel for the Kentucky Banker’s Association. “And that means we have to collaborate more as an industry and exchange information.”

Schenk works with Ensminger to educate banks and their clients.


“The only way we can combat that is to try to find what it is quickly and collaborate and share info or they’re going to keep getting more and more money,” Schenk said.

Ensminger says $2.8 million dollars in fraudulent checks were presented to Central Bank in 2022. Alert tellers caught many of them before they were processed. Both men agree slowing the problem begins with phasing out the centuries-old practice of writing checks and encouraging businesses to use a program called Positive Pay, ACH or wire payments, credit or debit cards.

“If you put that check in the mail, it will get stolen,” Ensminger said.

Crime Stoppers will pay for your anonymous information if you know anything about the recruitment of check walkers. You can leave that information on the tip line by calling 253-2020 or by going online to p3tips.com.