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Mail fishing scams on the rise in Astoria, police say

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Oct. 12, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan

Astoria has seen a rise in mail fishing scams in the past month, similar to those seen in the Bronx earlier this year, according to police.

A representative from the 114th precinct confirmed that there has been an uptick in mail fishing recently, a scheme where criminals use sticky objects attached to string to fish mail out of mailboxes in search of personal information and checks.

Thieves then wash the checks with certain chemicals, and then rewrite it to themselves, often increasing the amount it is made out for.

Police were not able to provide the exact number of reports of mail fishing recently or provide past statistics, but said that it has increased in recent months.

Though police are working to raise awareness of the issue by attending community meetings and handing out fliers, they are unable to do much more, said the representative from the 114th precinct.

Police are encouraging people to use Uniball 207 gel pens to write checks, as the ink has particles in it that adhere to the paper and make it harder to wash. They also encourage people to mail their checks from an indoor post office drop box, and to keep a close eye on their accounts for any discrepancies.

A similar wave of mail fishing happened in the Bronx earlier this year, and the city replaced many mailboxes to make it harder for thieves to steal mail. However, there are no plans to implement similar solutions in Astoria, the police representative said.

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