Check Theft Scheme Lands in Marianna Area

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Sheriff's officials in Jackson County have been on the look out for a South Carolina couple suspected in a rash of mailbox thefts. They say the pair may be pulling off one of the oldest scams in the book.

It appears that hurricane relief workers weren't the only ones to visit Jackson County after Hurricane Ivan made its exit.

Mary Fant is one of at least three known victims of a recent rip off in Jackson County. “How did they choose me? Why did they stop at my mail box and nobody else?"

Sheriff Johnny McDaniel says the husband and wife team of Billy Wayne and Nichole Vuncannon claimed several victims shortly after Hurricane Ivan. "They would ride around in the community and when they would see the red flag up on a rural mailbox they knew that there was mail in there.”

To the average person the flag up is an indication there's some type of mail that needs to be picked up by a mail carrier, but to these suspect it was money in the bank."

Sheriff McDanield told NewsChannel Seven the idea was to get people’s checks out of the mail. "They'll have a process where they would bleach those checks and redo those and mark over them." Then the checks are re-written to themselves and others for large amounts and cashed.

Mary Fant says that's exactly what happened to a check she had made to pay a bill. “They were able to turn that into their name and were bold enough to go into my bank and cash it."

Jackson County lawmen say the couple may have fled the state, because their latest stolen check was cashed in Alabama.

Sheriff's investigators are advising people to use direct deposit banking options for their retirement and social security checks.