Business owner says more than $100K in checks stolen, then forged and deposited

CHARLOTTE — A local business owner told Channel 9 she had checks worth thousands of dollars stolen, and then forged and deposited.

She said it happened to her shortly after she mailed those 40 checks at a post office in Steele Creek. She said she went inside the post office at 2 p.m. Wednesday, and by 9 a.m. the following day, she said someone had manipulated the checks and tried to cash them.

Melissa Bovit is the owner of Sitework Inc., a family-run commercial construction company in Steele Creek. It’s responsible for projects all across the Charlotte area -- from hospitals to casinos. She said some of her vendors can only be paid by check, and for 20 years, she’s gone to the same post office to mail those checks.

This week, she said the checks were stolen 19 hours after they were dropped off.

“One of the main indicators is obviously the check number. This check number and this check are different, and this zero was added when it was reproduced,” Bovit showed Channel 9′s Gina Esposito.

Bovit showed Esposito how someone reproduced the check, forged her signature, and changed the name of the payee. She had the copies of the checks because the forger tried to deposit them electronically.

“So far, out of the 40 checks I mailed that day to vendors and subcontractors, five of those checks were identified as fraudulent in a total amount of $133,000,” Bovit said.

A large amount that Bovit says is having an far-reaching impact.

“It affects everyone down the line,” Bovit said. “Not just our business, but the people they have to pay, the employees that they support, it affects hundreds of thousands of people. Just one check not getting to the right people.”

Bovit says so far, there’s no solid information on who did this. She filed a police report and also reported it to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

It’s not the first time something like this has happened to her business. She’s speaking out now in hopes that others will band together to catch the people responsible.

“I just feel like something needs to be done. This is a federal offense,” Bovit said. “There are loads of other commercial, industrial businesses in this area and I feel confident that our company is not the only one that’s been affected.”

The U.S. Postal Service has not responded to Channel 9′s questions about the case.

Melissa Bovit said her bank did refund her money. She’s now mailing her checks from other post offices, and working with her vendors on different payment options.

Back in March, Action 9 found out a $2 pen can actually protect you from this very situation. It’s the Uni-ball 207 gel pen, and many sources -- including CMPD -- say gel pens are hard to erase, especially the Uni-ball 207.

The pens are available at most stores and they’re only about $2 each.

For more on how you can prevent check washing, click here.

(WATCH BELOW: Man witnesses postal worker throwing away mail in south Charlotte, prompts investigation)